One of the reasons that the eurozone’s peripherals should be willing to put up with austerity is that it’s helping address internal balances and address falls in competitiveness. That’s the story being sold by the politicians at least. But now that the crisis is coming into its fifth year, there is a decent amount of data that allows us to see if those imbalances are indeed being corrected and that lost competitiveness regained.
James Nixon at SocGen has has done some clever number crunching with unit labour costs in the most crisis-hit eurozone countries since 2000, and found that any apparent improvements in competitiveness are likely to be fleeting. Read more
Compétitivité is a big deal in France right now.
The country’s loss of competitiveness is a serious issue, especially as its crisis-struck neighbours push on with wage cuts and labour reform.
On Monday, Louis Gallois, former head of EADS, is going to publish his report on the issue, and he’s expected to call for a “competitiveness shock”. He’s already said that he wants to see somewhere between €30bn-€50bn of taxes from the payrolls transferred to broader-based taxes, such as VAT, much to the delight of business leaders. Read more
Nomura’s Richard Koo is back to bang the balance-sheet-recession-drum and has taken a look at falling unit labour costs across the eurozone periphery and where they are likely to meet Germany’s as they creep upwards.
(This is the good type of convergence.) Read more
IMD has released its latest competitiveness rankings, which measure “how well countries manage their economic and human resources to increase their prosperity”. Needless to say, the usual European suspects are right down the bottom and falling: Spain (39), Portugal (41) and Greece (58).
More interestingly, research by the Switzerland-based business school confirms what we have suspected for some time — emerging countries are losing competitiveness. Read more