2013-06-07

Išgirtasis vokiškasis modelis

Bill Mitchell apie neoliberalizmo "laimėjimus" Vokietijoje:
(kopijuoju begėdiškai didelį teksto fragmentą, nenaudodamas 'blockquote')
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First, that 63-letter word. The Age reports (June 4, 2013) – Sixty-three-character word is now verboten that:
Germany’s longest word – Rindfleischetikettierungsuberwachungsaufgabenubertragungsgesetz, the 63-letter title of a law about beef – has ceased to exist.
That is a long word. Apparently, it was not in the dictionary but was in official usage.
What about this German word?
Austeritydoesnotgenerategrowthdespitewhattheneoliberalssaybutrathercausespovertyanddepression
That seems to be around 93 characters.
But other things are getting smaller in Germany as well.
The Wall Street Journal article (May 29, 2013) – ‘Minijobs’ Lift Employment But Mask German Weakness – tells us that the upbeat talk about Germany as a success surrounded by failure is somewhat mistaken.
It does have a relatively low unemployment rate (6.9 per cent in May 2013). But:
… nearly one in five working Germans, or about 7.4 million people, hold a so-called “minijob,” a form of marginal employment that allows someone to earn up to €450($580) a month free of tax.
Minijobs pay low wages and do not provide the standard statutory benefits (holiday pay etc).
The neo-liberal apologists claim the minijobs satisfy the preferences of workers for flexible casual work. But the reality is different.
They become just another rationing device when aggregate demand is too low and lead to rising inequality and diminished investment in human capital.
The official data shows that:
While Germany’s top earners among full-time workers who contribute to the social security system saw pay rise 25% between 1999 and 2010, salaries in the lowest quintile increased roughly 7.5% … After inflation of about 18% during that period, Germany’s lowest wages dropped significantly.
The minijobs were part of the Hartz reforms, which I briefly discuss below.
The neo-liberals also claimed they formed part of the “stepping stone” upgrading where a young person could first take a casual job and then progress up to more regular, high paid positions.
The evidence in Germany (and everywhere for that matter) disputes this claim.
The point is that part of the Euro crisis that is least reported is the way that Germany responded to the loss of its exchange rate. Previously, the Bundesbank had manipulated the Deutsch mark parity to ensure the German export sector remained very competitive. That is one of the reasons they became an export powerhouse. It is the same strategy that the Chinese are now following and being criticised for by the Europeans and others.
Once the Germans lost control of the exchange rate by signing up to the EMU they had to manipulate other “cost” variables to remain competitive.
So the Germans were aggressive in implementing their so-called “Hartz package of welfare reforms”. A few years ago we did a detailed study of the so-called Hartz reforms in the German labour market. One publicly available Working Paper is available describing some of that research.
The Hartz reforms were the exemplar of the neo-liberal approach to labour market deregulation. They were an integral part of the German government’s “Agenda 2010″. They are a set of recommendations into the German labour market resulting from a 2002 commission, presided by and named after Peter Hartz, a key executive from German car manufacturer Volkswagen.
The recommendations were fully endorsed by the Schroeder government and introduced in four trenches: Hartz I to IV. The reforms of Hartz I to Hartz III, took place in January 2003-2004, while Hartz IV began in January 2005. The reforms represent extremely far reaching in terms of the labour market policy that had been stable for several decades.
The Hartz process was broadly inline with reforms that have been pursued in other industrialised countries, following the OECD’s job study in 1994; a focus on supply side measures and privatisation of public employment agencies to reduce unemployment. The underlying claim was that unemployment was a supply-side problem rather than a systemic failure of the economy to produce enough jobs.
The reforms accelerated the casualisation of the labour market (so-called mini/midi jobs) and there was a sharp fall in regular employment after the introduction of the Hartz reforms.
The rapid increase in the minijobs is a reflection of these deep-seated changes and have created a situation where an increasing (and sizeable) proportion of German workers are now excluded from enjoying the benefits of national income growth in that nation.
The German approach overall had overtones of the old canard of a federal system – “smokestack chasing”. One of the problems that federal systems can encounter is disparate regional development (in states or sub-state regions). A typical issue that arose as countries engaged in the strong growth period after World War 2 was the tax and other concession that states in various countries offered business firms in return for location.
There is a large literature which shows how this practice not only undermines the welfare of other regions in the federal system but also compromise the position of the state doing the “chasing”.
But in the context of the EMU, the way in which the Germans pursued the Hartz reforms not only meant that they were undermining the welfare of the other EMU nations but also droving the living standards of German workers down.
And then the crisis emerged amidst all this.