On EconLib, Anthony de Jasay has an excellent couple of articles on Pope Francis (one and two). The title might upset a few readers, though: “Che Guevara in the Vatican.”

Vatican storm2.jpg

Jasay points out perceptively that this latter-day arch-critic of capitalism, Pope Francis, isn’t writing recipes for the cook-shops of the future either. If it is pretty clear that the target of the Pope’s criticism is globalisation as it is, the corrections to the system he proposes are at best vague. Writes Tony:

It is a matter of personal opinion what we should understand by ‘unbridled capitalism’ instead of capitalism proper, of how the capitalists should behave when they put profits against people, and how we obtain a ‘new model’ of a just society. All these notions are immensely attractive but run the danger of meaning nothing much. When they translate into objective facts, they lose much of their attractions. They become arbitrary rules, uneasy compromises, regulations which turn out to be requirements for more and more regulations in an endless sequence, and bureaucracy that calls for more and more of the same. The total result is very difficult to evaluate. It is even difficult to understand it at all. As the Soviet economy demonstrated, it is something full of surprises, most of them unpleasant, such as factories with a ‘negative value added’ and the production of shoes for the right foot with no production for the left one.

After reading this, I ran into a status by Philip Booth on Facebook.

Juan Grabois has been appointed advisor to the Vatican’s justice and peace department and an advisor close to the pope. He has just said: “In Argentina, we are now in a very bad socio-economic crisis, caused by policies that have a scent of ‘neo-liberalism.” This sort of thing is just so depressing. How about thinking (being able to think does, after all, distinguish us as being human) rather than just reacting. Argentina is ranked only above Cuba and Venezuela in the index of economic freedom for south and central america (quite an achievement – it is not a strong field in that continent). It’s austerity policies (criticised by Grabois) are a reaction to borrowing being equal to an incredible one-third of all tax receipts. It is one of the most protectionist and regulated countries in the world. Of course, there was a time when it was somewhat neo-liberal – and at that time it was one of the richest countries in the world.