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Reforms, Macroeconomic Policy and Economic Performance in Germany

  • Carlin, Wendy
  • Soskice, David

The conventional diagnosis of Germany’s poor economic performance focuses on supply-side weaknesses and the need for more vigorous reforms to make low-skill labour markets more flexible. We question this on both theoretical and empirical grounds. In an extended version of a New Keynesian model shifts in aggregate demand can move the economy along a range of constant-inflation medium-run unemployment equilibria. The evolution of the real exchange rate and the external balance help to identify whether aggregate supply or aggregate demand shifts have been dominant in accounting for changes in unemployment. We provide some prima facie evidence for Germany and the UK that aggregate demand factors have played an important role in sustaining growth in the UK and weakening it in Germany over the medium run. We show that Germany has a relatively strong record in implementing OECD recommended reforms but the expected employment effects in low-skill service sectors appear disappointing and poverty has increased. By contrast, it is in high productivity sectors including services that the German economy has performed well, especially in exports. Here labour markets are not flexible in the conventional sense: codetermination, vocational training, and coordinated wage bargaining are important. We pursue the implications of these claims for the design and political economy of reforms in Germany.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 6415.

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Date of creation: Aug 2007
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:6415
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  1. Leonor Coutinho, 2005. "Fiscal Policy in the New Open Economy Macroeconomics and Prospects for Fiscal Policy Coordination," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 19(5), pages 789-822, December.
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  7. Dean Baker & Andrew Glyn & David Howell & John Schmitt, 2002. "Labor Market Institutions and Unemployment: A Critical Assessment of the Cross-Country Evidence," SCEPA working paper series. SCEPA's main areas of research are macroeconomic policy, inequality and poverty, and globalization. 2002-17, Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis (SCEPA), The New School.
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  13. James J. Heckman, 2002. "Flexibility and Job Creation: Lessons for Germany," NBER Working Papers 9194, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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