From the Crisis of Distribution to the Distribution of the Costs of the Crisis: What Can We Learn from Previous Crises about the Effects of the Financial Crisis on Labor Share?

Source: Özlem Onaran, Political Economy Research Institute, 3/11/2009

From the abstract:
The working paper analyzes the possible distributional consequences of the global crisis based on the lessons of past crises. The decline in the labor share across the globe has been a major factor that led to the current global crisis. Onaran argues that this is a crisis of distribution, and similarly the policy reactions to the crisis are part of a distributional struggle. The paper presents the effects of the former crises in the developing countries and in Japan on income distribution, wages, and unemployment. This comparison is important not only because it compares developing and developed country cases, but also because it highlights the differences between the currency crises and domestic financial crises as to the distributional consequences.

Despite differences, the cumulative effect is in both cases a dramatic pro-capital redistribution. Building on these lessons, the paper discusses the possible different effects of the current global crisis in the developed countries, Eastern Europe, and developing countries, and concludes with policy alternatives to avoid the socialization of the costs of the crisis.

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