NEW YORK – Recent political developments, including the defeat of incumbent governments in France and Greece, suggest that the public’s tolerance for economic policies that do not reduce unemployment has collapsed. Indeed, given the alarming economic and employment situation in many countries today, with no prospect of recovery on the horizon, further political turmoil is likely unless policymakers change course accordingly.
The economic crisis has wiped out more than 50 million jobs after years of weak, job-poor growth and increasing inequality in the world’s rich countries. Since 2007, employment rates have risen in only six of the 36 advanced economies, while youth unemployment has increased in a large majority of both established and emerging markets.
In the near term, the global crisis is likely to become worse as many governments, especially in advanced economies, prioritize fiscal austerity and tough labor-market reforms, even as such measures undermine livelihoods, incomes, and the social fabric.
Meanwhile, despite quantitative easing, many companies have limited access to credit, depressing investment and reducing job creation. Easy credit before the crisis encouraged over-investment in those sectors, such as housing, that were thought to be profitable. It is no surprise that the resulting excess capacity now discourages private investment in the real economy.