|My Application for a fellowship to Harvard (2005)
Latin America Economic Researcher
Visiting Scholars Program
David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies
1730 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, MA 02138 - USA
I would like to come to Harvard because I agree with Dr. Alan Greenspan when he
said at the Grand Valley State University, Michigan, in 1999, something like this: "We
can say, with assurance, that we are witnessing in this decade in the USA the most
stimulating historic demonstration of the productive capacity of free peoples acting in
free markets." Also,. Dr. Greenspan talks about the process of the enrichment of the
intelligentsia in the USA.
This is exactly the opposite of what I note in the case of Brazil. There is lack of
intelligentsia here and if it did exist, it's now suffering a process of corrosion. I give
just three recent examples. 1) When people all over the world are studying English
including "red" China, in Sao Paulo, the biggest and most important city of Brazil,
children in public schools are studying French! 2) The current vice-President, Jose
Alencar, declared in November 2005 that the government, of which he is, of course,
an important part, has made a pact with the devil! 3) In November 2005 the state
legislature of Rio de Janeiro approved a new law that a friend of mine called The
Callipygian Law: from now on photos of girls in bikinis are forbidden on postcards.
The governor signed it.
A second reason to come to Harvard would be to be in touch with other researchers
who work in my area.
I would like to stay a year at Harvard and in my second semester teach a seminar
with the title: Brazilian Communism (Latin American?): an Ally of the USA.
Research Project: A Comparative Study between Brazil and Portugal Concerning
An intriguing question is why many unemployed Brazilian people of all levels of
education are currently emigrating to Portugal looking for job opportunities. This
phenomenon signifies a complete inversion of the history of the last four and an half
The first logical factor to examine is to consider the economic performance of both
countries in the recent past. In fact, I have done so. The monumental work of
professor Angus Maddison gives us the following data – the percentile of GNP per
capita of Portugal/Brazil – for the period 1870 to 1989 (The data for 2004 are from
the World Bank, in GNI per capita):
1870 1890 1913 1950 1973 1989 2004
35% 48% 39% 12% 69% 68% 364%
We can note two remarkable features from these data. First, it is quite clear that in
1950 Brazil had about the same GNP per capita as Portugal. Certainly it is due to the
fantastic growth of the Brazilian economy between 1900 to 1950 – in fact the largest
of the world. Second, the enormous difference in economic performance from 1989 to
2004. In just 15 years Brazil and Portugal seem to be two completely different
countries. Portugal has not had an economic performance comparable to China in the
last 15 years. What happened?
Looking at Brazil, the Brazilian Constitution of 1988, according to a quick check, the
world’s longest to date, has been a complete disaster. The Brazilian economy has
stagnated since then. It worsened the labor laws for many. In fact, it was the zenith
of the populism that dictator Getulio Vargas had begun in 1930. Among another
things, the Constitution introduced a new concept, that of moral damage. Although
not a part of labor legislation itself, it has become a big problem for companies. It
could be called the industry of moral damage. Currently, it is very hazardous to be a
businessman in Brazil.
Also, other important economic trends, not considered as part of this study, have
Looking at Portugal, the Portuguese economy has had two important changes. First,
the entry into the European Union – the basic and healthy idea of budget balance etc.
Second, the 2nd amendment of 1989 to the Constitution of 1976 would have
contributed to the conception of a free market economy, as stated by former Finance
Minister (Ministro da Fazenda), Mailson da Nóbrega.
The inspiration for this research came to me when studying the magnificent The
Regulation of Labor – Working Paper 9756, 2003, NBER Working Paper Series, for the
2nd edition of my book A Industria da Justiça do Trabalho (The Labor Justice
Industry). The authors gave, with many justifications, a lot of weight to cultural
factors when comparing countries. To begin with, they divide countries into common
and civil law origins. I can not see, in this respect, two countries more alike in the
world than Portugal and Brazil. Although they have about the same index in the cited
work, they have had a completely different performance as shown above. Thus, there
must be other important factors at play in this context. The idea here is to examine
in detail, according my field experience in Brazil, part of the general study contained
in The Regulation of Labor.
Of course, another interesting factor that was not considered in the cited work is the
importance of the recent – I mean about the last two centuries – political history
among countries. I have thought about this perhaps because of my political
background. Most European countries have had a strong influence of Social-Democracy
(The IInd International), the mother of the Russian bolshevism (The IIIrd
Why have, at least in the last decades, most of European countries had double the
unemployment level of the USA? The Regulation of Labor explains this. In fact, when
France, Germany, Netherlands, Italy and Belgium had an average rate of 1.62 for the
index of employment laws and 1.64 for the index of industrial (collective) relations
laws, the USA had .92 and .36!
The recent elections in Germany demonstrate the importance that politicians have
given this matter. In France also this matter played a major role when the EU
Constitution was voted. Besides, many industries are going to East Europe affirming
that the main reason is the labor regulations or the negotiation of better conditions
with the big unions to compete in this flat world – borrowing the expression of
Thomas Friedman. Good examples are the cases of Bosch, Siemens, etc. China is the
An important step in this research would be a few weeks in Portugal dialoguing with
young and old Portuguese businessmen and verifying in the field the real conditions
of running a business in that country and to confirm the changes in the last decades
concerning labor relations. This could be taken as nonsense for someone living in a
developed country but in countries like Brazil it is very important. In such countries
there are two types of laws: those which are obeyed and those which are not!
This understanding was reinforced after reading a recent interview with Dong Tao, a
Chinese economist. Among other important things, he says that the Chinese labor
market is the most capitalist of the world. The Regulation of Labor gives China the
following indexes: 1.62 for the index of employment laws and 1.40 for the index of
industrial (collective) relations laws. This is quite high, considering his declarations.
So, I suppose that in China there also might be two different kinds of law.
The first step of this research would be to study as deeply as possible Portugal’s
labor laws and, then, to observe in the field the real conditions.
Seminar: Brazilian Communism (Latin American?): an Ally of the USA.
I would like to demonstrate the existence of a new kind of Communism. Although
quite different from the late Soviet or the current Cuban model, it is much more
sophisticated. It has elections and many other appearances of a free market economy
and a real democracy. It has generated hereditary pensions and many other privileges
that obstruct any possibility of economic development. As a consequence, it exports
people looking for jobs. This is evidenced by the fact that despite Wall Street and
Washington praising Brazil’s economic performance, tens of thousands have tried to
escape to the USA and elsewhere both for real economic opportunity and for personal
safety. The US Border Patrol reports Brazilians are the Number Two nationality caught
crossing illegally the Mexican Border.
The seminar is intended for students and scholars of Harvard departments of political
sciences, history and sociology, and the JFK School of Government.
Letters of Recomendation
Dear Members of the Interdisciplinary Panel:
I write to recommend Josino Moraes, whom I understand is applying to be a
Fellow of The David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies. Josino Moraes is a
very interesting and thoughtful Brazilian engineer and economist whom I came to
know when he stopped by my office at the University of Miami School of Law to
interview me. I have subsequently read a number of his articles, primarily dealing
with legal and economic aspects of Brazilian life. He writes extremely well, and he
sees Brazil through a quite distinct and original perspective. I have been particularly
intrigued by his discussion of the labor courts and the operation of labor legislation in
Brazil. His analysis is one of the most penetrating I have seen on the subject.
Although he may have started out as a Marxist, Moraes left the Marxist camp long
ago. He is very much his own person and an original thinker. I have every reason to
believe that his project on a comparative study on Brazilian and Portuguese labor
legislation will be carried out with verve, style, and acute insights into and the actual
operations of the labor regulations.
I commend him to you most highly.
Keith S. Rosenn
Professor of Law Director of
the Foreign Graduate Law Program
I liked very much Josino Moraes’ book A Indústria da Justiça do Trabalho – A Cultura
da Extorsão (The Industry of Labor Justice – The Culture of Extortion). I learned a
lot. The courage of Mr. Moraes has added some bricks to the construction of the
building of ideas that will lead to the extinction or at least the reformation of Labor
Justice in Brazil, and also to ideas for the good functioning of a completely free
market economy in Brazil.
Besides, his project A Comparative Study between Brazil and Portugal Concerning
Labor Regulations seems to me quite interesting.
São Paulo, December 28, 2005
Maílson da Nóbrega
Former Minister of Finance
Partner of Tendências Consultoria Integrada
Dr. Josino Moraes
Sao Paulo, SP
Dear Dr. Moraes,
Thank you for your application to the 2006-07 Visiting Scholars and Fellows Program
of the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies at Harvard University. Your
proposal generated strong interest among colleagues here at Harvard, but I am
afraid we are unable to offer you a fellowship at this time. This year's competition
brought an unusual number of very strong applications from scholars and
professionals of international reputation, and the selection process was quite
rigorous. Unfortunately, with limited funds and space, we were not able accept many
truly outstanding candidates.
My colleagues and I appreciate the time and care you took in preparing your proposal.
Thank you for your interest in our Center and best wishes for your continued success.
John H. Coatsworth