Sunday, May 15, 2011

Global unemployment challenge

The biggest immediate problem facing the developed economies is arguably the persistence of high unemployment rates. As the graphic below reveals, among the major economies, apart from Germany, unemployment rate remains well above the level before the onset of the Great Recession in September 2008.



Its innovative short-work scheme that encouraged companies to keep workers on reduced hours rather than let them go and the strength of its exports sector played a major role in limiting the impact of the Great Recession on the German labor market. Labour market reforms initiated in the last decade too helped Germany retain its competitiveness during the Great Recession.

In the circumstances, contractionary fiscal and monetary policies, driven by fears of burgeoning deficits and inflationary pressures, are only likely to further shrink these economies. This danger is all the more so since aggregate demand is very weak and the private sector is in no position to lead the recovery.

Anemic economy will only exacerbate the debt crisis and increase the debt-to-GDP ratios. As to inflation, given the considerable idling resources in all these economies, it looks like a phantom menace. The immediate challenge should be to get these economies back on some stable recovery path, so that jobs are restored and created, by continuing the expansionary policies for some more time. Or else, we could be staring at a lost decade for developed economies.

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