Thursday, April 25, 2013

Kalecki on employment

Some of the recent remarks of Dean Baker and others seem to be similar to those which Michal Kalecki made in the 1943 article 'Political Aspects of Full Employment'. A discussion of some of Kalecki's points is in this post. A quote from Kalecki in the post:

"[U]nder a regime of full employment, the 'sack' would cease to play its role as a disciplinary measure. The social position of the boss would be undermined, and the self-assurance and class-consciousness of the working class would grow. Strikes for wage increases and improvements in conditions of work would create political tension. It is true that profits would be higher under a regime of full employment than they are on the average under laissez-faire; and even the rise in wage rates resulting from the stronger bargaining power of workers is less likely to reduce profits than to increase prices, and thus adversely affects only the rentier interests. But 'discipline in the factories' and 'political stability' are more appreciated than profits by business leaders. Their class instinct tells them that lasting full empoyment is unsound from their point of view, and that unemployment is an integral part of the 'normal' capitalist system."

Dean Baker in a recent article Crashing the 90 Percent Club: 'The Importance of Reinhart-Rogoff Error' says
"The news last week is that the new paper discrediting Reinhart and Rogoff made everything much clearer. The leadership of both major parties is not seeking ways to reduce the budget deficit because there is any reason to believe this will be good for the economy. They are looking for ways to reduce the budget deficit because the wealthy are happy to sustain a situation in which high unemployment weakens workers’ bargaining power. This does not paint a very positive picture of the state of democracy in the United States."

From Felix Salmon"
"Here’s the post-crisis recovery in a nutshell: from 2009 to 2011, the “mean net worth of households in the upper 7% of the wealth distribution rose by an estimated 28%, while the mean net worth of households in the lower 93% dropped by 4%”, according to new report by the Pew Research Center.  The reason for this, Pew says, is clear. Capital markets, where the wealthy hold a disproportionate amount of assets, boomed, while the housing market, the biggest source of wealth for most Americans, was flat.

Josh Brown looks at the Pew study and concludes that “wealthy American households have never had it quite so good”. He sees a statistical portrait of American rentiers, a class with “investment portfolios who essentially extract an income from the nation and return very little (in the form of jobs or spending) in comparison to what they take”. At the other end of the spectrum, America’s dealing with the quiet humanitarian disaster of long-term unemployment, which Paul Krugman says is creating an increasingly “permanent class of jobless Americans.”"

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