To Save Capitalism, We Need to Save Communities
Comment of the Day

February 26 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

To Save Capitalism, We Need to Save Communities

This excerpt from Raghuram Rajan, former head of the Reserve Bank of India, new book may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

When it comes to trade, on the other hand, the losers are clear: In developed countries, they are the workers with a moderate education. When manufacturing supply chains were entirely contained within those nations, their jobs were safe; the indivisibility of the production process allowed them to bargain for higher pay, lower and more pre­dictable work hours, and more safeguards at work. As the production process has fragmented, though, with each segment undertaken in the most appropriate country, they have been exposed to the full force of competition from cheaper, more flexible, and equally competent labor elsewhere.

Well-paying unionized jobs in low-tech manufac­turing industries have been most adversely affected. Such jobs have typically been located near smaller towns and rural areas in the interior of countries, where the cost of living and thus of labor has been low. The incomes these jobs provided also helped
keep local hairdressers, laundries and shops in business.

Moderately educated workers whose firms close because of trade competi­tion typically have few palatable alternatives. With few new jobs near the small towns or semirural areas where they live, and most such jobs to be found in companies beset by the same competitive woes, workers have bleak prospects if they stay put. Yet, according to one U.S. study, that’s exactly what
they do.

Why? Retraining is hardly easy, espe­cially for manufacturing workers who went to work after high school many years ago and who really have not used computers at work or at home. Cities offer service jobs but also demand higher rents. For many, not moving and hoping old jobs return seems the best bet; after all, there are still friends and family nearby.

Eoin Treacy's view

I consider this to be a very accurate characterisation of the root causes of populism. Rajan knows this better than most since he was forced out of his job at the RBI because he was unwilling to acquiesce to the demands of Narendra Modi’s populist administration.

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