オランダのデルフト工科大学のServaas StormとC.W.M. Naastepadが、「Europe’s Hunger Games: Income Distribution, Cost Competitiveness and Crisis」という論文を書いているMostly Economics経由のINETのStormインタビュー記事経由)。

The dominant view, both on the mainstream right and on the left, holds that the Eurozone crisis is a crisis of labour-cost competitiveness—with trade imbalances (and hence foreign indebtedness) being driven by divergences in relative unit labour costs (RULCs) between surplus and deficit countries. To re-balance Eurozone growth, the mainstream solution is a deflationary policy of ‘internal devaluation’ (i.e. cutting the wage share by as much as 30%) in the deficit countries. The ‘progressive’ view holds that the surplus countries should adjust by raising their wage shares. We argue that both sides of this debate are wrong and unhelpful. Europe’s trade imbalances are determined by domestic and world demand—whilst RULC divergences play only a negligible role. Eurozone growth can only be revived when Eurozone demand growth is restored, not by lowering wages here and/or raising them there. The current deflationary adjustment forced on the wage-led economies of Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain is self-destructive: it is a ‘confidence killer’, not only deepening the free fall of southern European incomes but also damaging their productive base and productivity growth. The outlook is depressing—further increases in already high unemployment rates, inequality measures and poverty rates inconceivable in prosperous Europe just a few years ago—and arguably dystopian.


This frenzied race to see who can reduce labor costs the most looks like the contest forced upon twelve young people in The Hunger Games, a dystopian novel (and a movie) about how a fictional dictatorship is using “Bread and Circuses” to distract and appease its oppressed and disenfranchised population. The analogy between Europe’s crisis and The Hunger Games is that it’s competitive in the extreme. The contestants are the Eurozone members—each one trying to bootstrap its economy out of the throes of the most severe crisis in living memory. The audience judging each country’s performance is not made up of reality TV watchers but of financial (bond) markets and credit rating agencies, whose supposedly rational views can make or break any economy.
The name of the game is boosting cost-competitiveness and exports—and its rules are carved into stone in March 2011 in a ‘Euro Plus Competitiveness Pact,’ a plan imposed by Germany and the ECB that forced the other countries to play.