Workers Are Losing Out Globally

A blog about business and economics.
Dec. 11 2012 11:37 AM

Workers Are Losing Out Globally

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Brent Neiman sent me a working paper that he's written with Loukas Karabarbounis that's relevant to the ongoing discussion about labor compensation's declining share of American GDP. There's a lot of stuff going on here, but the key point for the purposes of political punditry is simply the empirical observation that the trend in question is global in scope (see above) and they think linked to a parallel shift in savings away from the household sector and toward the corporate sector.

The bulk of the paper is dedicated to developing a technical model in which those factors can be linked and explained as a function of the declining cost of investment goods. That certainly could be right.

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In terms of discussions on the Web that militates in favor of something like the technology explanation and against something like the "robber baron" hypothesis since technology is more something that's the same everywhere. I think my conjecture about the impact of asymetrical macroeconomic stabilization holds up here in the sense that the "Great Moderation" move to strict inflation targeting regimes was more-or-less global, but you'd want to check on that. I'm less confident in that account than I was before seeing this, and more inclined to buy technology-based theories.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.

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