Monday, July 04, 2011

IMF paper blames financial crisis heavily on inequality

From a new IMF paper (hat tip: Aditya Chakrabortty,) on the latest global financial crisis:
The crisis is the ultimate result, after a period of decades, of a shock to the relative bargaining powers over income of two groups of households, investors who account for 5% of the population, and whose bargaining power increases, and workers who account for 95% of the population.
and the mechanism by which it happened is quite straightforward:
"The key mechanism is that investors use part of their increased income to purchase additional financial assets backed by loans to workers. By doing so, they allow workers to limit their drop in consumption following their loss of income, but the large and highly persistent rise of workers’ debt-to-income ratios generates financial fragility which eventually can lead to a financial crisis."
It notes, of course, that they aren't the first in making a similar idea, pointing to the work of Raghuram Rajan:
Rajan’s argument is that growing income inequality created political pressure, not to reverse that inequality, but instead to encourage easy credit to keep demand and job creation robust despite stagnating incomes
Then, the bleeding obvious:
"Redistribution policies that prevent excessive household indebtedness and reduce crisis-risk ex-ante can be more desirable from a macroeconomic stabilization point of view than ex-post policies such as bailouts or debt restructurings."
And of course tax havens had a huge amount to do with the inequality. Not to mention the more direct effects they had in creating and causing the crisis. See the wealth of evidence on this latter issue, here.

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