17 June 2011

The evolution of French Labour Market Policy

We now spend 30 billion euros on unemployment benefits, about 15 billion euros on active measures (excluding training) and about the same on professional training. In addition, various social contributions break costs us almost 20 billion. While spending on unemployment benefits and active measures have been rising steadily since the 1970s, early retirement schemes started following from the mid 1980s onwards. Various implicit and explicits subsidies were introduced at the end of the 1980s and have represented the fastest rising item.

Looking at the same policies in terms of their relative weight in the budget shows that in relative terms spending in unemployment benefits has remained stable at about 30-40%. Spending on Training and active measures have relative to other spending items been decreasing. The big winner of course is the social contributions break which now accounts for more than 20% of the spending...

Source: French Employment ministry

15 June 2011

Updated ICTWSS database

The ICTWSS database covers four key elements of modern political economies in advanced capitalist societies: trade unionism, wage setting, state intervention and social pacts. It contains annual data for 34 countries running from 1960 till 2007, and covers 90 variables... Some new variables that may be of interest, for instance the composition of union members. 

New LSE blog on Africa

08 June 2011

How the internet is revolutionising research

Check out this article "Quantitative Analysis of Culture Using Millions of Digitized Books" - in the words of the authors: "We constructed a corpus of digitized texts containing about 4% of all books ever printed. Analysis of this corpus enables us to investigate cultural trends quantitatively." !

Krugman and Eggertsson on why more spending may make sense even when debt is high

The key message to take home:
"One thing that is especially clear from the analysis is the likelihood that policy discussion in the aftermath of a deleveraging shock will be even more confused than usual, at least viewed through the lens of the model. Why? Because the shock pushes us into a world of topsy-turvy, in which saving is a vice, increased productivity can reduce output, and flexible wages increase unemployment. However, expansionary fiscal policy should be effective, in part because the macroeconomic effects of a deleveraging shock are inherently temporary, so the fiscal response need be only temporary as well. And the model suggests that a temporary rise in government spending not only won’t crowd out private spending, it will lead to increased spending on the part of liquidity-constrained debtors." (page 23 - Debt, Deleveraging, and the Liquidity Trap: A Fisher-Minsky-Koo approach)

An Answer to the Meaning of Life

An Answer to the Meaning of Life

06 June 2011

Humala likely winner of Peruvian Presidential elections!

Though the results are still preliminary, it seems likely that the candidate for the left has won.

With an estimated real growth rate of 8.8% for 2010 (11th highest in the world for that year), the country remains fairly poor with a GDP per capita in Purchasing Power Parity of $9,200 (115th position). Unemployment rate currently stands at 7.9%, but inequality is high with a GINI coefficient of 49.6 (25th highest in the world). The poorest ten percent of households have 1.5% of total income/consumption while the top ten percent has 37.9%.... It is not hard to imagine why people supported the candidate with the redistributive agenda. For more background information and sources, go here.

Academic journal dedicated to studying my home town

Its mission "consists in making free and easily accessible scientific articles on Brussels' reality in order to stimulate their use in the public debate. Brussels Studies is an entirely trilingual journal (French, Dutch and English [yes every article - welcome to Belgium!]) which presents on its website articles that are accessible to non-specialised readers" - check it out.

Also have a look at this article by a friend of mine on whether Brussels could be chosen using centres of gravity: ‘diplomatic’, ‘demographic’, ‘metropolitan’ and ‘civic’

A Competent candidate withdraws his nomination...

Beyond Strauss-Kahn: Facts on the prevalence of rapes in France

Unless one was lucky enough to be stuck in some Island with neither electricity nor newspapers for the past couple of weeks, one cannot help but be fed up with the Strauss-Kahn trial that has spread like a virus across much of the media.  

Clearly what's important about this issue is not the affair itself, but the underlying social phenomenon that it is located in. In France it had the fortunate effect of attracting attention to France's inability to tackle this issue effectively. Partly, this stems from the difficulty to prosecute those who commit rapes. 

05 June 2011

Robert Lucas on the crisis: causes and consequences

Interesting set of slides; I particularly like that one below, which basically shows that in terms of GDP deviations from trend we're still far from the 1929 slump. I agree with Lucas that the role of monetary policy, though politically unpopular, avoided the worst of the crisis. However, his contention that governments are now to blame seems pretty far fetched to me. The basic idea, based on perfect rationality of agents, is that the US government potential plan to raise taxes on the rich has an adverse effect on the expectations of these agents, which then feeds into lower investment decisions, etc.