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Ricardo Benjamín Salinas Pliego es un empresario mexicano, Fundador y Presidente de Grupo Salinas. Es un hombre cuyas convicciones y pensamiento se reflejan claramente en su obra así como en sus actividades empresariales. Es un hombre de familia, forjado en el valor del trabajo, la tenacidad, el esfuerzo y la pasión para alcanzar los sueños. Se considera un optimista nato.

Contador Público por el Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey, cuenta con una Maestría en negocios por la Universidad de Tulane; sin embargo, no cree que los títulos académicos otorguen conocimiento por encima de la experiencia. Desde muy joven desarrolló su instinto empresarial en diversos negocios. Imposible es una palabra que no está en su diccionario.

Lector apasionado de la historia, sus personajes, el arte, la ciencia, la tecnología así como los negocios y finanzas, gusta de compartir sus intereses y no duda en manifestar su opinión sobre diversos temas de interés, como lo hace regularmente en su blog. Sus ideas las ha expuesto el Foro Económico Mundial de Davos, en The Young President’s Organization, The Economist Mexico Business Roundtable, el Instituto de las Américas, la Cámara de Comercio de los Estados Unidos, UCLA, TED, CAP, The Aspen Institute, The New York Forum, Universidad de Michigan, Universidad de Georgetown y la Escuela de Negocios de Harvard, donde usualmente trata asuntos relacionados con liderazgo, globalización, gobierno corporativo y las oportunidades en la base de la pirámide.

Economics in a Nutshell

Economía en una lección

Economics writer Henry Hazlitt does a great job explaining complex issues simply in "Economics in One Lesson". Although the book was first published in 1946, it’s more relevant today than ever.

The book centers on the inability of many politicians, economists and other "experts" to consider two points: (1) long-term results and (2) the community-wide impact of the public policies. Many of the "magic recipes" of economists err in one or both aspects.

For example, thinking that public spending will spur economic activity on its own is a major fallacy for one simple reason:  the resources come from one of two sources:  higher taxes or greater public debt. The former will necessarily displace private spending, which is always much more efficient than public spending. And more debt breaks with the pact between generations.

When the political elite argue in favor of a tax increase, they always promise greater well-being for all. However, this rarely happens for two reasons:  government projects rarely meet intended expectations  ̶  often because of incompetence, lack of control, or corruption  ̶  and tax increases must be paid by families or companies. The government does not have a magic wand to generate wealth.  And if it resorts to printing money, the only thing created is inflation, which is the worst of all taxes.

When a parent pays 1,000 pesos more in taxes, he or she is sacrificing something for the family, such as food, transportation, better educational opportunities, or maybe just taking in a movie or going on vacation. The political elite have no right to question the free will of families and the way they spend their money.

Meanwhile, companies give up one of two things: investment or shareholder dividends. If they sacrifice dividends, families will be affected, with the consequences we previously mentioned, and if they give up investment projects, the result will be a decrease in the productivity of the national economy and less job creation, which is what we have seen since 2014:  stagnation in productive investment.

Taken to the extreme, this results in companies that are poorly capitalized and unable to compete in the global economy. In response, the next goal of a populist is protectionism, with terrible consequences for society as a whole.

Politicians typically lecture us on the "common good," of the "nation’s welfare," or similar abstract concepts  ̶  which they rarely manage to materialize  ̶  and offer us fantasies and tangible harm to family well-being. Increases in taxes are rarely justified and usually hamper economic development.

Another fallacy that Hazlitt tears to shreds is the notion that import tariffs " protect industry and therefore jobs." This idea has become fashionable north of the Rio Grande, but in reality, it is a broken record dating back more than 300 years and it has always failed. Tariffs only benefit a handful of industries, and in fact help some of the worst, namely those that are unable to produce world-class goods.

Let’s suppose I am an "industrialist" who produces poor-quality, uncomfortable shirts. No doubt, people will prefer soft, higher-quality shirts even if they are imported. Nevertheless, what if I form a business group to pressure the government and impose a 35% tariff on shirt imports?

Our infallible argument is job protection.  Indeed, who can oppose the reasoning? This powerful argument could lead to tariffs on shirts, with some consumers enduring discomfort and bad appearance to save a few pesos, and others paying 1,350 pesos for a shirt they could have previously bought for 1,000 pesos.

Who wins and who loses? Of course, some jobs will be "saved" and the industrialists involved will be able to generate greater profits, at the cost of general well-being.

At the same time, millions of people will go through life wearing uncomfortable and ugly shirts, while others will sacrifice the consumption of other goods to avoid the embarrassment and annoyance of the inferior product.

The industrialists who produce the sacrificed goods will see their earnings diminished and will cut jobs, which quickly deflates the "preserving employment" argument. Meanwhile, purchases of shirts will necessarily be reduced because these products will now be bad and/or expensive. The well-being of millions of people will be affected in exchange for retaining some barely competitive jobs and generating extraordinary profits for a few inefficient industrialists. These are not the incentives we need to create world-class industries.

Another argument that has gained adherents among populists north of the border is that increasing public spending on infrastructure will necessarily benefit society. Once again, to finance this new spending, you must raise taxes or increase debt and we’ve already discussed the terrible consequences of either of these two measures.

Governments also tend to have terrible track records in terms of adjusting budgets, completing projects satisfactorily, and calculating their benefits. Frequently we see bridges that go nowhere, badly built highways that require continuous maintenance, airports where a single flight a day arrives, and hospitals or sports centers that are abandoned a few months after being opened. And let’s not get started on the useless and abominable border wall between the United States and Mexico.

At least in Mexico, we have racked up billions of dollars in public works projects of little or no value. All this has been paid with resources that were taken away from companies or families and could have been earmarked for more productive purposes.

Applying Hazlitt's lesson, not only do the arguments in favor of public spending and tariffs collapse, but many others as well, such as: (1) the alleged dangers of technological change; (2) the advantages of creating public jobs; (3) the obsession with promoting exports at all costs and avoiding imports; (4) the benefits of establishing a minimum wage; (5) the "fair price" fallacy; (6) the obsession to save strategic industries; (7) the advantages of the war economy, and many other common fallacies.

"Economics in One Lesson," is a must read in times of "alternative truths" and "fake news," in which discussions about public policy are increasingly expressed in 140 characters.

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Victor Manuel Carrillo Colorado, Apodaca, N.L. :

Gracias por compartir su valioso tiempo y sobre todo, por compartir experiencia y conocimientos. Espero todo esto pueda beneficiar a estudiantes de la carrera y nutra de conocimientos a la sociedad en general que tiene acceso a esta información. Esperamos más publicaciones de las que podamos aprender y que nos ayuden a ser cada día mejores ciudadanos de este bello México. Saludos cordiales.

Roberto, Mexico:

Es correcto, pero terrible que el gobierno recibe muchos ingresos que no son usados para las debilidades que tenemos en el país. Ese mal se llama corrupción. Sin embargo hay grandes oportunidades, cada día se van viendo nuevos nichos de mercado. Dentro de poco se van a comercializar autos que vuelan, crecen nuevos negocios, nuevas oportunidades de empleos. Saludos.

Pablo Cárdenas, T2 P6:

Muy interesante y totalmente de acuerdo. No soy experto en el tema pero creo que la economía de estado depende también de factores externos. El principal es que México no puede imprimir dólares de buena calidad como China.

JULIO LABORIE., México, Ciudad de México.::

Antes de comentar sobre el artículo "Economía en una lección", lo saludo con todo respeto y aprecio. Partiendo de la Segunda Guerra Mundial a la fecha, aunque parece lejos, no han cambiado mucho las cosas en materia de “Económia de Estado”. Y menos con relación a las finanzas basadas en la fabricación de armamento bélico y en el dominio presencial e intervencionista que tienen sobre algunos países, en las decisiones de toda índole de sus sometidos. Un país que no tiene independencia real y no hace valer su soberanía en la realidad, siempre será sometido en aspectos económicos, diplomáticos y políticos por el más fuerte. Por lo que respecta a nuestro país, ya lo decía Don Porfirio Días: "México tan lejos de Dios y tan cerca de los Estados Unidos". Hablando del país vecino, actualmente tiene serios problemas respecto del gasto público y ésta es una de las verdaderas razones y no el sofisma que nos han querido vender respecto al muro. Por lo que no veo inútil hablar de ello, cuando sus verdaderas intenciones van más allá: dominio y seguir practicando la cultura del delito internacional (armas, muertes, invasiones). Toda vez que USA siempre ha actuado discretamente y con visión a futuro, es por lo que se prepara para un mejor control respecto a cualquier ataque.