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Competitiveness and wages in the Eurozone

POSTED ON August 16th  - POSTED IN Labour & Wages
From rippedoffbritons.com

From rippedoffbritons.com

Martin Sandbu has a useful piece in the Financial Times entitled Free Lunch: getting real about competitiveness. It makes many points that we regularly make here: most fundamentally, that we should not confuse the competitiveness of companies with the so-called ‘competitiveness’ of countries. (To get a first sense of this, ponder the difference between a failed company and a failed state.)

Sandbu’s focus is not on ‘tax competitiveness‘ or on the ‘competitiveness’ of a country’s financial sector policies, but on exchange rate and wage issues, and the Eurozone. He describes the ‘conventional wisdom’ going like this: countries in the Eurozone with large trade deficits cannot adjust their currencies so they have to restore ‘competitiveness’ by driving down wages. Then he sets about challenging the conventional wisdom, on several fronts.

Wages and national competitiveness: getting real

POSTED ON August 16th  - POSTED IN Labour & Wages
From rippedoffbritons.com

From rippedoffbritons.com

Martin Sandbu has a useful piece in the Financial Times entitled Free Lunch: getting real about competitiveness. It makes many points that we regularly make here: most fundamentally, that we should not confuse the competitiveness of companies with the so-called ‘competitiveness’ of countries. (To get a first sense of this, ponder the difference between a failed company and a failed state.)

Sandbu’s focus is not on ‘tax competitiveness‘ or on the ‘competitiveness’ of a country’s financial sector policies, but on exchange rate and wage issues, and the Eurozone. He describes the ‘conventional wisdom’ going like this: countries in the Eurozone with large trade deficits cannot adjust their currencies so they have to restore ‘competitiveness’ by driving down wages. Then he sets about challenging the conventional wisdom, on several fronts.

Did the “competitiveness agenda” influence the Thatcher deregulation?

POSTED ON August 1st  - POSTED IN Blog, Competitiveness - the history files, Financial Regulation

It has been widely suggested and supposed that the abolition of exchange controls – one of the great episodes of financial deregulation in the United Kingdom since the 1970s – was the result of lobbying by the City of London. In this post for Fools’ Gold, Jack Copley of Warwick University explores the history, and finds a rather different story, focusing particularly on the issue of ‘competitiveness’ as it applies to the exchange rate.

 

What role did the ‘competitiveness agenda’ play  in the Thatcher government’s deregulation of finance?

The case of exchange controls

By Jack Copley, Warwick University

Jack Copley

Jack Copley

Fools’ Gold has continued to expose the nefarious power of the City of London in British policymaking. As the biggest sector of the British economy, it is able to exercise undue influence over the government in order to secure preferential treatment. The notion that the City must remain globally competitive, and that ordinary people should be concerned about ensuring this, is a key part of the ‘competitiveness agenda’ in the UK.

Margaret Thatcher is the British politician most commonly associated with the City. Under her administration, a number of key financial deregulations took place, including exchange control abolition (1979), the Big Bang (1986), and the Building Societies Act (1986). Experts generally points to two explanations for the Thatcher government’s deregulatory agenda: 1) the City’s lobbying power; and 2) Thatcher’s ideological desire to promote the interests of the City over those of industry. This was particularly the case with exchange control abolition, which is widely perceived to have been a case of Thatcher giving a direct subsidy to financial elites and justifying it with rhetoric about national competitiveness.

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