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Capitalists, workers, and managers: Wage inequality and effective demand

Listed author(s):
  • Tavani, Daniele
  • Vasudevan, Ramaa

We present a simple three-class model in the Kaleckian tradition to investigate the implications of a dominant managerial class for the dynamics of demand and distribution. Managers play a peculiar role in the economy, both because of their supervisory function – which results in surplus extraction and wage inequality – and because of their saving behavior. The adjustment of capacity utilization to accommodate goods market disequilibrium produces two distinct regimes with respect to the responsiveness of investment demand to profitability: a low investment-response regime, where effective demand appears to be both wage-led and inequality-led; and a high investment-response regime, where demand looks profit-led. In accordance with recent empirical evidence for the US, we introduce distributional dynamics that hinge on inequality squeezing workers’ wage growth. We find that the low investment-responsiveness regime produces a stable demand-distribution equilibrium only if the wage squeeze effect is relatively small. On the other hand, the equilibrium in the high investment-response regime is saddle-path stable. The main distributional implication of the wage squeeze and inequality is that the effect of redistribution toward workers in both the low investment response regime and the high investment response regime leads to declining inequality and capacity utilization. Hence, in both regimes, the inequality-led features of the equilibrium dominate the wage-led or profit-led nature of effective demand. These findings imply that distributive dynamics lead to a stronger basis for cohesion in the interests of managers and capitalists compared to workers and managers.

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File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0954349X14000307
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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Structural Change and Economic Dynamics.

Volume (Year): 30 (2014)
Issue (Month): C ()
Pages: 120-131

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Handle: RePEc:eee:streco:v:30:y:2014:i:c:p:120-131
DOI: 10.1016/j.strueco.2014.05.001
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/525148

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  1. Harvie, David, 2000. "Testing Goodwin: Growth Cycles in Ten OECD Countries," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 24(3), pages 349-376, May.
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  9. Nelson H. Barbosa-Filho & Lance Taylor, 2006. "Distributive And Demand Cycles In The Us Economy-A Structuralist Goodwin Model," Metroeconomica, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 57(3), pages 389-411, 07.
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