Financialization and the rentier income share -- evidence from the USA and Germany
During the past two decades, there has been a shift of significance from the real to the financial sector. In the course of (financial) globalization, measures of liberalization and deregulation have contributed to a strengthening of financial capital. The concept of shareholder value orientation has become more powerful, capital income has increased tremendously, while real wages have stagnated. Most industrial countries have experienced a decline in the share of labor income. Based on a review of empirics and literature, this paper seeks to determine who gained from the fall in the labor share of income in the USA and Germany, respectively. If financialization is indeed responsible for the decline, rentiers should be the beneficiaries. In order to identify the relevant effects, the profit share of the two countries under observation is split between the share of retained earnings and the share of net property income (= rentiers’ income) using a modification of the approach chosen by Epstein and Jayadev (2005). The evidence presented shows that the development of the rentier income share indeed corresponds quite well with the stages of development of financialization in the two different countries: in the US, where the important shift towards financialization occurred in the early 1980s, the rentiers’ share of income shows a corresponding leap upwards exactly at that time and remains on a higher level until the end of the observation period. In Germany, the process of financialization started much later -- in the beginning of the 1990s -- and followed a much more gradual transition, which is perfectly mirrored by the development of income shares: from the 1990s onwards, the rentiers’ income share gradually increased over time.
Volume (Year): 26 (2012)
Issue (Month): 4 (June)
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