Bo prevagal pesimizem?

Martin Sandbu, pronicljiv kolumnist Financial Timesa, je na podlagi svoje junija objavljene knjige “The Economics of Belonging: A Radical Plan to Win Back the Left Behind and Achieve Prosperity for All” včeraj v Financial Timesu objavil povzetek svojih ključnih poant. Postavil je pet programskih točk, ki zajemajo predvsem:

  • Together, these two principles point in the direction of higher minimum wages, a universal basic income, generous government funding for education and labour-market mobility, and strict enforcement of labour standards.
  • net wealth tax, removing the gaping loopholes in multinational taxation,
  • increasing tax revenue from carbon emissions, in line with the climate challenge. A particularly promising proposal is the “carbon tax and dividend”, where revenue from higher emissions taxes would be paid out as a universal basic income.

Sandbu konča v pozitivnih notah glede reforme kapitalizma, pri čemer svoj optimizem veže na spremembe, ki so se zgodile po letu 1933 z Rooseveltovim New dealom in razvojem socialne države v Evropi.

No, na drugi strani je Vitor Constanzio, do nedavnega podpredsednik Evropske centralne banke in znan po dokaj progresivnih stališčih, ki pa je bistveno manj optimističen glede realističnosti reforme kapitalizma v Sandbujevo smer. Constanzio niza argumente v podporo dvomu v reformizem. Predvsem pa pravi, da si bo finančni kapital težko pustil vzeti svojo moč in da bosta predstoječi avtomatizacija in robotizacija proizvodnje še povečali neenakost. Pred nami naj bi bilo nadaljevanje sedanjega “mučenja” pod taktirko finančnega kapitala, situacijo, s katero je velika večina ljudi nezadovoljna.

In his FT piece, @MESandbu condensed important messages from his recent book a thoughtful and intelligent guide to progressive reforms to adjust capitalism, especially the anglo-saxon “cutthroat” version, but also the European “cuddly”version(Acemoglu)1/n…

The FT piece highlights the need for a wage/productivity led growth; higher minimum wages; UBI; macro policies for “a high-pressure economy”; a wealth tax; effective taxation of big multinationals; a carbon tax redistributed to all citizens; active regional policies 2/n

The book has more: policies to empower the weaker; measures for a smarter financial system (with CBDC); tweaks for a globalisation with a human face. It also has the optimism to believe that this catalogue can be implemented by either the center-left or the center-right! 3/n

“Le pessimism est d’humeur, l’optimisme est de volonté (Alain)” and optimism is always necessary. The text hopes that “ The moment of moral clarity triggered by the pandemic opens a political opportunity to «rebuild better»”. Sadly for me, I don’t share that confidence 4/n

This is neither a 1945 moment, after war tragic destructions, nor a 1933 moment after economic devastation. In 2008 and now, macro policies avoided the worst, and wealth and financial markets are still in command and working to keep the status quo, possibly with a few tweaks…5/n

Hopes of deep reforms also emerged after 2008, but with the arguable exception of bank regulation, nothing really structural happened to the system.See Eichengreen´s “Hall of mirrors” or Helleiner´s “The status quo crisis”. Finance and debt continued to expand well beyond GDP 6/n

Inequality continued to increase. After the Piketty 2013 book, there has been a lot of talk and thinking about what to do, but I do not recall a single really significant measure taken in any advanced economy. I can, however, recall measures in the opposite direction 7/n

Concerning climate change, public awareness and support really jumped, and we can justifiably hope that at least Europe will move forward. As for the second big disruption, the AI/Robotic revolution, it leaves us without a real answer to the potential job upheaval. 8/n

Economists usually take refuge in the mantra that historically always other jobs emerged to offset those destroyed by technology. But consider the impressive chart in Martin´s piece on the disconnect between production and jobs in industry that will be replicated in services 9/n

Read also Susskind´s “A world without work”.. “a world without enough work for everyone to do”. Or @BaldwinRE ´s “The Globotics Upheaval”: “Globotics is injecting pressure into our ..system (via job displacement) faster than our system can absorb it (via job replacement)” 10/n

AI/Robotics will affect jobs and inequality. To take care of people,the only responses imply a big change in our income distribution subsystem,e.g. by expanding profit-sharing as Leontief foresaw in a great 1982 Scientific American article on automation. Expanded ESOPs or … 11/n

…or have the State taking shares in the new tech companies through public wealth funds as proposed by Dani Rodrik in his book “Straight talk about trade”. Of course, another possible path is an illiberal democratic plutocracy as foreseen by Cowen´s “Average is over” 12/n

More likely, our societies will continue to “muddle through”, sleepwalking to future crises (first a financial one) in a growing polarized politics, social unrest, and possible but unsuccessful populist experiments. We do need “l´optimisme de volonté”(Alain) to fight those /end

Vir: Vitor Constanzio, via Twitter


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