Over the years a number of suggestions have been made for improving labor productivity by changing the manner in which laborers are compensated for their efforts. The ideas presented and analyzed in this volume have all been put into practice, in modified form or on a small scale, in the United States or elsewhere. Some are new; others quite old.
David I. Levine and Laura D'Andrea Tyson consider the effects of employee participation in decisionmaking on firm performance, and Martin L. Weitzman and Douglas L. Kruse discuss the implications of profit sharing and related forms of pay for group performance. Michael A. Conte and Jan Svejnar analyze employee stock ownership plans in the United States and other forms of worker ownership in Europe; Masanore Hashimoto uses a transaction-cost perspective to assess Japanese employment and wage systems. Daniel J. B. Mitchell, David Lewin, and Edward E. Lawler III give an overall analysis of traditional and alternative pay systems, their history, development, and curent use, and recommend further experimentation with alternative compensation plans to ensure more adaptability on the part of U.S. firms. Blinder provides an overview of the findings and conclusions.
Based on the 1996 Lionel Robbins Lectures, this readable book deals succinctly, in a nontechnical manner, with a wide variety of issues in monetary policy. The book also includes the author's suggested solution to an age-old problem in monetary theory: what it means for monetary policy to be "neutral."
It is no surprise that many fearful American workers see the call center operator in Bangalore or the factory worker in Guangzhou as a threat to their jobs. The emergence of China and India (along with other, smaller developing countries) as economic powers has doubled the supply of labor to the integrated world economy. Economic theory suggests that such a dramatic increase in the supply of labor without an accompanying increase in the supply of capital is likely to exert downward pressure on wages for workers already in the integrated world economy, and wages for most workers in the United States have indeed stagnated or declined. In this book, leading economists Jagdish Bhagwati and Alan S. Blinder offer their perspectives on how the outsourcing of labor and the shifting of jobs to lower-wage countries affect the U.S. economy and what, if any, policy responses are required. Bhagwati, in his colorful and pithy style, focuses on globalization and free trade, while Blinder, erudite and witty, addresses the significance of labor market adjustment caused by trade. Bhagwati's and Blinder's contributions are followed by comments from economists Richard Freedman, Douglas A. Irwin, Lori G. Kletzer, and Robert Z. Lawrence. Bhagwati and Blinder then respond separately to the issues raised. Benjamin Friedman, who edited this volume (and organized the symposium that inspired it), provides an introduction.
Blinder considers three of the most significant aspects of the revolution. The first is the shift toward transparency: whereas central bankers once believed in secrecy and even mystery, greater openness is now considered a virtue. The second is the transition from monetary policy decisions made by single individuals to decisions made by committees. The third change is a profoundly different attitude toward the markets, from that of stern schoolmarm to one of listener. With keenness and balance, the author examines the origins of these changes and their pros and cons.