måndag 23 augusti 2010

Inkomstojämlikhet och finanskriser

New York Times skriver om en Harvardhistoriker, David A. Moss, som funderar på om det finns något kausalt samband mellan inkomstojämlikhet och finanskriser:
"Professor Moss is among a small group of economists, sociologists and legal scholars who are now trying to discover if income inequality contributes to financial crises. They have a new data point, of course, in the recent banking crisis, but there is only one parallel in the United States — the 1929 market crash.

Income disparities before that crisis and before the recent one were the greatest in approximately the last 100 years. In 1928, the top 10 percent of earners received 49.29 percent of total income. In 2007, the top 10 percent earned a strikingly similar percentage: 49.74 percent. In 1928, the top 1 percent received 23.94 percent of income. In 2007, those earners received 23.5 percent. Mr. Moss and his colleagues want to know if huge gaps in income create perverse incentives that put the financial system at risk. If so, their findings could become an argument for tax and social policies aimed at closing the income gap and for greater regulation of Wall Street.

This inquiry is one that some conservative economists are already dismissing.

R. Glenn Hubbard, for instance, who was the top economic advisor to former President George W. Bush, said income inequality was not the culprit in the most recent crisis.

'Cars go faster every year, and G.D.P. rises every year, but that doesn’t mean speed causes G.D.P.,' said Mr. Hubbard, dean of the Columbia Business School and co-author of the coming book 'Seeds of Destruction: Why the Path to Economic Ruin Runs Through Washington, and How to Reclaim American Prosperity.'

Even scholars who support the inquiry say they aren’t sure that researchers will be able to prove the connection. Richard B. Freeman, an economist at Harvard, is comparing about 125 financial crises around the globe that occurred over the last 30 years. He said inequality soared before many of these crises. But, Mr. Freeman added, the data from different nations is difficult to compare. And Professor Freeman says he has found some places, like the Scandinavian countries, where there were crises without much inequality, suggesting that other factors, like deregulation, may be the best explanations.

For his part, Mr. Moss said that income inequality might have complicated links to financial crises. For instance, inequality, by putting too much power in the hands of Wall Street titans, enables them to promote policies that benefit them — like deregulation — that could put the system in jeopardy.

Inequality may also push people at the bottom of the ladder toward choices that put the financial system at risk, he said. And low-income homeowners could have better afforded their mortgages if not for the earnings gap. /.../"
Louise Story, "Income Inequality and Financial Crises", NYT 21 augusti

Michael Kumhof och Roman Ranciere, "Inequality, Leverage, and Crises" (pdf), IMF Working Paper, november 2010 - och voxeu-artikel här från 4 februari 2011
Kumhof och Ranciere, "Unequal = Indebted", Finance And Development september 2011
Edward L. Glaeser, "Does Income Inequality Cause Crises?", NYT Economix 14 december
Anthony Atkinson och Salvatore Morelli, "Inequality and Banking Crises: A First Look" (pdf), paper, 2011
Tyler Cowen, "The Inequality That Matters", The American Interest januari - februari 2011
Jeremie Cohen-Setton, "Inequality and the Crisis", Bruegel Economic Blogs Review mars 2011
Daron Acemoglu, "Thoughts on Inequality and the Financial Crisis" (pdf), 7 januari 2011

Uppdatering 16 mars 2012
"Bertrand and Morse find that in the years before the crisis, in areas (usually states) where consumption was high among households in the top fifth of the income distribution, household consumption was high at lower income levels as well. After ruling out a number of possible explanations, they concluded that poorer households imitated the consumption patterns of richer households in their area.

Consistent with the idea that households at lower income levels were “keeping up with the Vanderbilts,” the non-rich (but not the really poor) living near high-spending wealthy consumers tended to spend much more on items that richer households usually consumed, such as jewelry, beauty and fitness, and domestic services. Indeed, many borrowed to finance their spending, with the result that the proportion of poorer households in financial distress or filing for bankruptcy was significantly higher in areas where the rich earned (and spent) more. Were it not for such imitative consumption, non-rich households would have saved, on average, more than $800 annually in recent years.

This is one of the first detailed studies of the adverse effects of income inequality that I have seen. /.../"
Raghuram Rajan, "Democratic Inequality", Project Syndicate 14 mars

Michael D. Bordo and Christopher M. Meissner, "Does Inequality Lead to a Financial Crisis?", NBER Working Paper No. 17896, mars 2012 - och deras voxeu-artikel med samma titel här, 24 mars

också: Paul Krugman och Robin Wells:
"the role of rising inequality in creating the economic crisis of 2008 is debatable; it probably did play an important role, if nothing else than by encouraging the financial deregulation that set the stage for crisis. What seems very clear to us, however, is that rising inequality played a central role in causing an ineffective response once crisis hit. Inequality bred a polarized political system, in which the right went all out to block any and all efforts by a modestly liberal president to do something about job creation."
Krugman och Wells, "Economy Killers: Inequality and GOP Ignorance", Salon 15 april

1 kommentar:

Björn Nilsson sa...

Om man tror att ojämn fördelning av inkomster och förmögenheter INTE har någon påverkan på konjunkturerna måste man väl förutsätta att alla människor oavsett ekonomisk ställning har i stort sett samma konsumtionsmönster och därmed upphäva Engels lag, samt också hävda att konsumtion inte påverkar konjunkturen. Om man däremot antar att masskonsumtion av billiga konsumtionsvaror är basen för att hålla det ekonomiska systemet igång, och den konsumtionen dras ner pga dåliga inkomster som beror av att små rika grupper tar hand om allt mer av samhällets rikedomar, då finns det definitivt en koppling. Att förneka den kopplingen verkar milt sagt mer ideologi än ekonomi.