The dilemmas of immaterial capitalism

By Sarah Guillou

A review of: Jonathan Haskel and Stian Westlake, Capitalism Without Capital. The Rise of the Intangible Economy, Princeton University Press, 2017, 288 pp.

This book is at the crossroads of the debate about the nature of current and future growth. The increasing role of intangible assets is indeed at the heart of questions about productivity gains, the jobs of tomorrow, rising inequality, corporate taxation and the source of future incomes. Continue reading “The dilemmas of immaterial capitalism”

Share Button

European unemployment insurance

By Léo Aparisi de Lannoy and Xavier Ragot

The return of growth cannot eradicate the memory of how the crisis was mismanaged at the European level economically, but also socially and politically. The divergences between euro area countries in unemployment rates, current account balances and public debts are at levels unprecedented for decades. New steps in European governance must aim for greater economic efficiency in reducing unemployment and inequalities while explaining and justifying the financial and political importance of these measures in order to render them compatible with national policy choices. The establishment of a European unemployment insurance meets these criteria. Continue reading “European unemployment insurance”

Share Button

The new labour inequalities. Why jobs are polarizing

By Gregory Verdugo

What is job polarization?

Over the past three decades, work has taken a new turn. While the post-World War II period saw a decline in wage inequalities, since the 1980s the gaps have been getting steadily wider. Differentials are increasing throughout the wage distribution, both between low and medium wages and between medium and high wages. In countries like France where wage inequalities have remained stable, the less skilled have been hit increasingly by the risk of unemployment and precarious jobs. Continue reading “The new labour inequalities. Why jobs are polarizing”

Share Button

How do French people look at equality of opportunity?

By Michel Forsé (CNRS) and Maxime Parodi

Do the French people believe in equal opportunity? The Dynegal survey asked the question in 2013 to a representative sample of 4,000 individuals, whose responses were very mixed. In a recent article in the Revue de l’OFCE (no. 146, 2016 [in French]), we show that it is the middle classes who prove to be a little more convinced than others by the idea that schooling gives everyone a chance and that one’s success in life does not depend on social origin. This result is in line with the thesis by Simmel that makes the middle-class the site of social mobility. Continue reading “How do French people look at equality of opportunity?”

Share Button

The American dream (finally) proven?

By Maxime Parodi

In a recently published short article, Thomas Hirsch and Mark Rank (2015) give us some astonishing figures about American society – numbers that, taken seriously, would lead to a significantly more nuanced view of income inequality in the United States. Indeed, their study suggests that American society is much more fluid than we think. While Americans undoubtedly live in a very unequal society, most of them would experience wealth at some point in their lifetimes. There is, in reality, a high turnover between rich and poor, which would explain why Americans are not very critical of inequality.

According to this study, during their working lives (age 25 to 60), 69.8% of Americans have enjoyed at least one year of household income sufficient to be included among the richest 20%. And 53.1% of Americans have made it – for at least one year – into the richest 10%. An even more exclusive 11.1% of Americans have spent at least one year in the illustrious club of the wealthiest 1%. Continue reading “The American dream (finally) proven?”

Share Button

A standard contract for France: a potluck approach?

By Jacques Barthélémy and Gilbert Cette

The debate over a single standard contract [contrat unique] generally arises in relation to the duality of the labour market, with on the one hand employees who are highly protected, such as civil servants and permanent employees (“CDI” contracts), and on the other hand workers shifting between periods of unemployment and poorly protected precarious jobs (fixed-term “CDD” and temporary contracts). This contrast reflects gross inequalities, and has important social and economic consequences.

To deal with this dual labour market, proposals are often made for a “single contract” that would reduce the differences in status and rights between precarious and permanent contracts. But the concept of a “single contract” is often poorly defined. If we closely examine the major differences that exist in the content of the various proposals, it even begins to look like a potluck approach! Continue reading “A standard contract for France: a potluck approach?”

Share Button

The redistributive effects of the ECB’s QE programme

By Christophe Blot, Jérôme Creel, Paul Hubert, Fabien Labondance and Xavier Ragot

Rising inequality in income and wealth has become a key issue in discussions of economic policy, and the topic has inserted itself into evaluations of the impact of monetary policy in the US and Japan, the precursors of today’s massive quantitative easing programmes (QE). The question is thus posed as to whether the ECB’s QE policy has had or will have redistributive effects.

In a paper prepared for the European Parliament, Blot et al. (2015) point out that the empirical literature gives rise to two contradictory conclusions. In the US, the Fed’s base rate cuts tend to reduce inequality. Conversely, in Japan an expansionary QE type policy tends to increase inequality. So what’s the situation in Europe? Continue reading “The redistributive effects of the ECB’s QE programme”

Share Button

On Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century

Presentation by Gérard Cornilleau

In 2014, the world of social science publications was marked by the appearance of Thomas Piketty’s book, Capital in the Twenty-First Century. The book’s global success, which is rare for a rather difficult work originally published in French, led to renewed debate on the distribution of wealth and income. Contrary to the widespread view that economic growth diminishes inequality and sooner or later leads to a balanced society with a large middle class (Kuznets’ hypothesis), Thomas Piketty uses long-term historical data, some of it new, to show that the norm is instead a widening gap between the rich and everyone else. Periods of falling inequality appear conversely to be related to accidents of political and social history (war, ideological upheaval, etc.). Therefore, and unless another countervailing accident were to occur, Western society seems doomed to suffer an increasingly severe imbalance in the distribution of wealth. Piketty believes that structural changes in taxation could contain this tendency, which is unsustainable in the long-term. Continue reading “On Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century”

Share Button

Does housing wealth contribute to wealth inequality?

par Guillaume Allègre and Xavier Timbeau

In a response to Capital in the twenty-first century, Odran Bonnet, Pierre-Henri Bono, Guillaume Chapelle and Etienne Wasmer (2014) attempt to show that the conclusion of the book in terms of the explosion of wealth inequality is not plausible. They point out what they see as an inconsistency in the thesis: according to the authors, the capital accumulation model used by Piketty is a model of accumulation of productive capital, which is inconsistent with the choice to use housing market prices to measure housing capital. To correctly measure housing capital, one should use rent and not housing prices. By doing this, the authors conclude that capital/income ratios have remained stable in France, Britain, the United States and Canada, which contradicts the thesis of Piketty. Continue reading “Does housing wealth contribute to wealth inequality?”

Share Button

Doesn’t real estate capital really contribute to inequality?

By Guillaume Allègre and Xavier Timbeau

In a response to Capital in the twenty-first century, Odran Bonnet, Pierre-Henri Bono, Guillaume Chapelle and Etienne Wasmer (2014) attempt to show that the book’s conclusions regarding an explosion in wealth inequality are “not plausible”. The authors point out an inconsistency in Thomas Piketty’s thesis: the model of capital accumulation is implicitly a model of the accumulation of productive capital, which is inconsistent with the decision to include real estate capital at its market value in measuring capital. If valued correctly, the ratio of capital to income would have remained stable in France, Britain, the United States and Canada, which contradicts the thesis of Piketty’s work. Continue reading “Doesn’t real estate capital really contribute to inequality?”

Share Button