Laurence Parisot, the head of MEDEF, the French business
organisation, recently complained that:
There is one word who meaning for the public has changed in the past 25 years: “reform”. It used to be synonymous with progress, and now it means social regression.
One wonders why. Or not. As I’ve written incessantly over the past year at European Tribune (for instance here), “reform” has come to mean only one thing: less regulation of corporations, lower wages, fewer rights for workers, and weaker unions, i.e. the elimination of anything that can impede corporations’ freedom to make profits in the short term. Continue reading →
This is a very convenient moment to put up this post. Alan Greenspan has just admitted that he’s human like the rest of us, and that he doesn’t have a very good explanation for why long-term interest rates have been falling at a time when he and his Fed colleagues have been busy raising short-term rates. I think he’s being a bit coy here, since I’m sure he has some idea. Among other things he will be well aware of the contents of a speech made recently by Ben Bernanke, a US economist who is considered high on the list of possible Greenspan successors.
“Iwill argue that over the past decade a combination of diverse forces has created a significant increase in the global supply of saving–a global saving glut–which helps to explain both the increase in the U.S. current account deficit and the relatively low level of long-term real interest rates in the world today. The prospect of dramatic increases in the ratio of retirees to workers in a number of major industrial economies is one important reason for the high level of global saving.” Continue reading →
His opinion is that the US trade deficit isn’t as big a deal as people often think. One of the reasons: that the ongoing import of human capital into the US (which of course isn’t measured in the trading accounts ledger) more than compensates for the deficit:
“But get with the 21st century, folks. The trade in goods and services represents only one part of America’s connection with the rest of the world. What’s equally important — and what the trade numbers miss completely — is the incredible flow of people into the country. Each year, the U.S. receives about 700,000 legal immigrants, as well as a host of temporary skilled workers and undocumented immigrants.
Now I wouldn’t go down the same road as Mandel with the deficit question per se, but he obviously raises an interesting point here – and one, of course, that immediately strikes a chord with me. Continue reading →