L'ajustement des salaires face aux chocs pétroliers et les réponses de la politique économique
The wage evolution for a small open economy is very important. A particularity of the Belgian wage formation process is the existence of an institutionalised price indexation system. The oil-shocks of the 70's revealed both the importance and the danger of this mechanism. Wage-earners retained their income while the share in national income of government and enterprises income diminished. This resulted in a strong fall in profitability and a loss in competitivity for the enterprises. By international standards wages are fairly rigid in Belgium, resulting in a slow recovery of profitability. The government has intervened in the wage formation process since the beginning of the 80‚s with aim of restoring enterprises competitiveness and government finances. Due to the wage-policy and to the evolution of macro-economic wage determinants, the wage share in value added has returned to what it was in the 60‚sand the early 70‚s. The 1989 Law to preserve Belgian's competitive's position provided the government with ways to intervene when the country's competitive position is in danger. This paper looks at these phenomena. In particular, the institutional framework for wage determination is described. The traditional macro-economic wage determinants (productivity, labour market tightness, taxes and prices) are analysed. The relative importance of each of these factors in explaining wage increases is calculated. Also some simulations with the macro-economic model Maribel II are represented . The effects of an oil-price increase accompanied by lower international growth and an increase world interest rates are studied. Attention id given to a possible policy reaction where the government neutralises the effects of the oil-price increase on the domestic price that is used for wage indexation. The outcome is that a large pert in the deterioration in the macro-economic indicators is neutralised in this way.
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