måndag 20 januari 2014

Nyare diskussioner om löneandelen

Robin Harding skriver i FT om disconnecten mellan vinstandel och investeringarna, som jag tidigare bloggat om:
"a broader mystery about the US economy, one that dates back to the late 1980s, but has become ever more pressing as a fifth year of sluggish recovery begins. Profits in the US are at an all-time high but, perversely, investment is stagnant.
According to GMO, the asset manager, profits and overall net investment in the US tracked each other closely until the late 1980s, with both about 9 per cent of gross domestic product. Then the relationship began to break down. After the recession, from 2009, it went haywire. Pre-tax corporate profits are now at record highs – more than 12 per cent of GDP – while net investment is barely 4 per cent of output. The pattern is similar, although less stark, when looking at corporate investment specifically.
This change is profoundly odd. Economic theory says investment is driven by profitable opportunities on one side and the cost of capital on the other. High profits suggest there are decent opportunities to make money; historic lows in interest rates and highs in the stock market mean that capital is dirt cheap. Yet investment does not follow."

Robin Harding, "Corporate investment: A mysterious divergence", FT 24 juli 2013

Och Tim Harford raljerar i samma tidning om att 
As technology becomes cheaper and better, people are replacing “labour” with “capital” – that is, employing fewer people, or paying the people they do employ less, and replacing them with machines or computers. Research published by two economists at the University of Chicago, Loukas Karabarbounis and Brent Neiman, has documented this trend: it’s global, it’s been going on for three decades, and it is happening in many different sectors of the economy. Some people can get more done in an automated world – but others find themselves shoved out of skilled work and into poorly paid alternatives. So inequality increases. The arrival on the scene of China and other major low-wage economies has also played a part.
We need to fight back!
Maybe. Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, could organise a Luddite revolution against the machines. I don’t think that’s what he and Mr Balls have in mind when they talk about “predistribution”.

Tim Harford, "Low pay and the rise of the machines", FT 6 september 2013

Och Steve Johnson har en riktigt go artikel i samma tidning som handlar om att den fallande löneandelen inte bara är positiv för företagen utan också sänker efterfrågan på deras produkter; han bygger bl.a. på ILO-sponsrad forskning (pdf) av postkeynesianerna Özlem Onaran och Giorgio Galanis.
In 1958, Walter Reuther, a powerful US union leader was taken on a tour of a newly automated Ford Motor plant. “Aren’t you worried about how you’re going to collect union dues from all these machines?” he was asked by a (no doubt smug) company manager.
“The thought that occurred to me,” Mr Reuther replied, “was how are you going to sell cars to these machines?”
Fifty-five years on, such a debate may be even more pertinent. In the innocent days of 1958, wages accounted for half of America’s gross domestic product. Today, thanks to the onward march of globalisation and technology, labour’s share of the pie has fallen inexorably to 42 per cent, a trend that has been repeated in many other countries.
As providers of capital, investors might initially rejoice that the share of economic output accruing to them is rising, as labour’s share falls. But, as Mr Reuther observed, companies also need customers who can afford to buy their goods and services.
“There has been a battle between capital and labour and basically capital has won,” says Gary Greenberg, head of emerging markets at Hermes Fund Managers.
“The returns to capital are getting bigger and the returns to labour are getting smaller. I don’t see that changing any time soon. I don’t see anyone in the US Congress talking about it.”
Richard Lewis, head of global equities at Fidelity Worldwide Investment, who has studied this trend, believes it to be structural rather than cyclical, and therefore unlikely to reverse.
Mr Lewis says globalisation has “lowered the power of labour to bargain,” resulting in de-unionisation and the “emasculation” of workers. /.../
Ms Hudson believes the impoverishment of labour, which she sees as gaining traction since 2008, will not continue. Instead, a degree of reversion to the mean is more likely, she argues.
In contrast, Mr Lewis muses whether Marx was right all along, and that capitalism ultimately sows the seeds of its own destruction, “when there is no consumer demand and it all falls over”.
Mr Greenberg paints a picture of a bleak future with, barring a “mass uprising”, “McJobs” increasingly the norm.

Steve Johnson, "Capital gobbles labour's share, but victory is empty", FT 13 oktober 2013

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