Making the Economy Work by Jon Shields (eds.)

By Jon Shields (eds.)

This quantity includes a sequence of essays which study microeconomic or structural matters and try and clarify why replacement prescriptions to monetarism may have kept away from the big upward thrust in unemployment within the Nineteen Eighties. rules are advised that could decrease and stabilize unemployment levels.

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If a trade union or an employer finds repugnant the idea of 24 The Case for Profit-Sharing hiring unemployed workers, they should not sign up for the plan. 'No collusive restrictions on new hiring' is a logical requirement for the government to insist upon, since the basic reason the differential tax treatment is being granted in the first place is to encourage increased employment. I do not think such a plan can be fairly characterised as anti-labour. Instead, it works within the existing framework, asking only that trade unions play their fair role in helping to get unemployed workers into the company and producing output so that these much-too-high unemployment rates can be reduced to almost everyone's advantage.

What, then, is causing the unemployment? There is only one answer. But, like a coin, the answer has two sides. Side one is that unemployment is caused by insufficient aggregate demand (relative to money wages). Side two is that unemployment is caused by too-high money wages (relative to aggregate demand). Sometimes it is usefui'to stress one side of the coin; sometimes the other. But it is always the same coin. In either case, the key to non-inflationary full employment is an economic expansion that holds down the marginal cost to the firm of acquiring more labour.

This tendency may take a long time to be fully realised. It may be frustrated by aggressive unions (where they exist) or voluntarily slowed by the employers themselves. But if the incremental, hardly-noticed decision at the margin has more of a bias than before to lean towards firing fewer workers during bad times and taking on more of them during good times, then gradually, perhaps imperceptibly, the system will ratchet itself towards an ever-tighter labour market. The point is not that widespread conversion to profit-sharing would instantly result in full employment by itself, thereafter rendering macroeconomic policy unnecessary.

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