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The Rise Of Unemployment In Europe

A Keynesian Approach

Engelbert Stockhammer

Edward Elgar 2004 232 s. ISBN 1 84376 410 5
Bogomtale fra forlaget.

Engelbert Stockhammer effectively punctures the myth that high unemployment in Europe is mainly the result of rigid labour market institutions and generous social policies. The author revives a Keynesian perspective by using innovative theoretical models and careful statistical analysis to show that Europe’s high unemployment rates have been caused mainly by depressed aggregate demand (especially reduced capital investment) rather than by labour market rigidities or high real wages. He argues that the root causes of Europe’s high unemployment are found in its liberalized financial system and restrictive macroeconomic policies, and he suggests a new policy approach that could address Europe’s most pressing social problem.’
– Robert A. Blecker, American University, US

‘This book provides a long-awaited extension of the Kaleckian growth model, by explicitly considering the evolution of the rate of unemployment. The author provides a neat framework that compares the features and implications of the New Keynesian NAIRU model with those of the closely related post Keynesian theory of conflict inflation. He shows that the long-run rate of unemployment in the post Keynesian approach always depends on effective demand, in contrast to what occurs in the standard NAIRU approach, where it only depends on supply-side factors such as rigid labour markets. The framework is also used to provide empirical tests of the two major explanations of the rise of unemployment in Europe. Engelbert Stockhammer presents highly useful theoretical tools and empirical arguments for those who wish to object to “conventional wisdom” on labour and employment issues and policies. He gets us one step closer towards a synthesis of various heterodox traditions, linking in particular the Keynesian and the Marxist strands.’
– Marc Lavoie, University of Ottawa, Canada

‘Engelbert Stockhammer challenges the NAIRU story of European unemployment and the view that institutional rigidity is the cause of Europe’s economic slowdown. He presents a convincing (post) Keynesian approach which combines innovative theoretical reasoning with up-to-date empirical research. According to this view, European stagnation is due to effective demand problems, in particular to a slowdown of capital accumulation caused by the “financialization” of non-financial firms and changing management priorities under the conditions of liberalized financial markets. These are the problems European policy makers should tackle instead of further pursuing a path towards deregulation.’
– Eckhard Hein, Institute for Economic and Social Research, Germany

Keynesian economists have continually highlighted the crucial role of effective demand and capital investment in determining the level of unemployment. However, this vital insight has been conspicuous by its absence in recent mainstream debates on the causes of the rise of unemployment in Europe.

The dominant explanation of unemployment – the NAIRU theory – implies that wages are ‘too high’ and holds changes in labor market institutions responsible for the rise in unemployment. Given that wage shares have been falling for more than two decades and unemployment rates have remained high, it is surprising that this explanation has yet to be properly challenged. This book offers a long overdue and refreshing Keynesian approach to the rise of European unemployment. It critically discusses the NAIRU theory and presents econometric evidence to assess the relative importance of capital investment and labor market institutions. The author also explores the reasons for the slowdown in capital accumulation, and is able to establish a clear link between changes in the financial sector, changes in corporate governance and investment expenditures.

This insightful theoretical and empirical analysis of mainstream and heterodox approaches to unemployment deserves a wide readership amongst academics, economists, graduate students and policymakers in the fields of labour market theory and policy, post Keynesian economics and macroeconomics. It will also make a substantial contribution to the on-going and highly pertinent debate on the economic, political and social problem of unemployment.

Contents: 1. The Rise of Unemployment in Europe: A Synopsis 2. Profits and Unemployment: Is There an Equilibrium Rate of Unemployment in the Long Run? 3. The NAIRU Theory, the NAIRU Story and Keynesian Approaches 4. Explaining the Rise in European Unemployment: An Evaluation of the NAIRU Story and a Keynesian Approach 5. Financialization, Shareholder Value and the Theory of the Firm: Financialization and Management Priorities 6. Financialization and the Slowdown of Capital Accumulation 7. Policy Conclusions References Index