Osvaldo Feinstein a Johem Runde

Osvaldo Feinstein hizo un comentario a mi última columna en Expansión que publiqué como post independiente. El comentario venía acompañado de una nota antigua que Osvaldo había enviado hace tiempo a Johem Runde y que creo puede tener importancia en sí misma. Comienza así:

I have been conducting evaluations of development projects and policies since the early 80’s. During these evaluations I often perceived the the gap between what was stated in appraisal reports and what actually happened in reality was huge. In fact, sometimes it seemed that the the implemented projects were almost completely unrelated to their “script” (i.e., their appraisal reports, which as you may know are the basis for approving and funding development projects whose budget may range between 50,000,000 and 5,000,000 dollars).

Supongo que a nadie se le escapará que el párrafo anterior podría haber sido escrito por un miembro de la delegación que ayer desembarcó en Atenas.

I have always been struck by the view held by most colleagues that if you have sufficient resources to hire a strong team and were provided with enough time to do the work , then these huge gaps wouldn’t take place.

Esta fe sigue siendo cierta en general por lo que lo que sigue es una buena lección.

I developed a different view: that no matter how much time and resources were allocated to design projects (or policies), there are inevitable uncertainties during the time-span of the implementation of these interventions (approximately 10 years), which would require significant changes in the design during the implementation process. A very practical implication is that resources for design should be spread during the implementation process, rather than concentrating them at the front-end.

La implicación final es muy adecuada, auque me temo que poco práctica.

Given this view, I started to pay special attention to the way in which uncertainties were (not) dealt with in the context of development projects (including the literature, where uncertainty is reduced to risk, using practically always the phrase “risk and uncertainty” but actually just meaning “risk”).. Then, given that I am an economist by training, and I am very interested in economics, I focused on the way in which economists addressed uncertainty, and found among the most insightful writings those of JMKeynes (particularly the QJE ’37 article and the Treatise, plus some chapters of the TGT), Paul Davidson and GLS Shackle. Some 15 years ago I delivered a one week seminar on these issues (I shared the programme with Ivano, as it is in Italian).

Y así Osvaldo comienza a entrar en las distinciones que son pertinentes para la columna de Expansión.

Much more recently I saw the writings of Nassim Taleb (who sort of rediscovered some of these issues, but given his experience as trader and his ability to package them in an attractive way got so much attention). I read your article “Dissecting the Black Swan”, which I found very interesting. In fact, the point that you raised at the end of the paper, on the reasons why the world is likely to continue developing in a way that will lead to progressive increases in the number of Black Swans, is one that I tackled in my 1996 seminar (though of course without referring at that time to Black Swans but to unpredictable events that would have to be taken into account during the implementation of policies and projects), and my answer was in terms of the increasing world’s complexity (making a link between the limits to forecasting and chaos theory). I just checked that whereas in Taleb’s first edition of the Black Swan no reference was made to complexity, the revised 2010 edition has a few references to it.

Nada que añadir.

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