Sunday, May 17, 2009

Political Aspects of Full Employment IV, 2.

by Michal Kalecki

In current discussions of these problems there emerges time and again the conception of counteracting the slump by stimulating private investment. This may be done by lowering the rate of interest, by the reduction of income tax, or by subsidizing private investment directly in this or another form. That such a scheme should be attractive to business is not surprising. The entrepreneur remains the medium through which the intervention is conducted. If he does not feel confidence in the political situation, he will not be bribed into investment. And the intervention does not involve the government either in 'playing with' (public) investment or 'wasting money' on subsidizing consumption.

It may be shown, however, that the stimulation of private investment does not provide an adequate method for preventing mass unemployment. There are two alternatives to be considered here. (i) The rate of interest or income tax (or both) is reduced sharply in the slump and increased in the boom. In this case, both the period and the amplitude of the business cycle will be reduced, but employment not only in the slump but even in the boom may be far from full, i.e. the average unemployment may be considerable, although its fluctuations will be less marked. (ii) The rate of interest or income tax is reduced in a slump but not increased in the subsequent boom. In this case the boom will last longer, but it must end in a new slump: one reduction in the rate of interest or income tax does not, of course, eliminate the forces which cause cyclical fluctuations in a capitalist economy. In the new slump it will be necessary to reduce the rate of interest or income tax again and so on. Thus in the not too remote future, the rate of interest would have to be negative and income tax would have to be replaced by an income subsidy. The same would arise if it were attempted to maintain full employment by stimulating private investment: the rate of interest and income tax would have to be reduced continuously.

In addition to this fundamental weakness of combating unemployment by stimulating private investment, there is a practical difficulty. The reaction of the entrepreneurs to the measures described is uncertain. If the downswing is sharp, they may take a very pessimistic view of the future, and the reduction of the rate of interest or income tax may then for a long time have little or no effect upon investment, and thus upon the level of output and employment.


1 comment:

TheTrucker said...

"If he does not feel confidence in the political situation, he will not be bribed into investment"

The holder of money, if threatened with inflation, will seek to "invest". While he may "invest" in gold or oil or land, he will nonetheless "invest" in that he will turn lose of the money and someone else will then have it. In the first round of this dance, the tax man gets money as the recipient of the funds will pay a tax on that income. If the "investor" is properly taxed on the "returns" from such "investment" then he will have paid the consequences of his "investment". If he "invests" in oil or gold or land he will eventually pay the taxes caused by inflation while not actually receiving any "real" interest. But if he "invests" in a productive enterprise then he will receive both "capital appreciation" (the effects of inflation as well as the market price of ownership in a well run organization) AND "dividends".

No matter how you cut it, wage push inflation FORCES the money holders to "invest" or they WILL BE LESS RICH.