1) It's great to have people digging into things that never even occurred to me - not only a learning experience, but unexpected help.
2) Here is more evidence of deliberate behavior that has contributed to the major economic shifts that happened within a few years of 1980.
Here's a look at the ratio of dividends paid to stockholders by corporations to wages paid to the workforce.
The list of uses for corporate capital is pretty short: investment (in a very broad sense) or distribution. Voluntary distribution avenues include wages and dividends. Since a stark inflection point in 1976, the dividend to wage ratio has tripled. If you'd rather consider a long average as your launch pad, that value would be under 5%, so the ratio on that basis has more than doubled. At a detail level, the decline from 1966 to 1976 (coincidentally, most of the peak inflation period) looks significant. The ratio has faltered a bit recently, during the economic downturn. Whether this constitutes a turning point or just a rest stop on the way up is yet to be determined. (For a no-prize contest, see if you can Elliott-wave label the advance.)
For now, I'll leave it to the reader's imagination to decide what this might mean in terms of wealth disparity and the potential for resource misallocation.
Here's a look at the
I agree that trade is a good thing. But good things should be done properly, and in the right proportion. That was the case with the trade balance for many years - up to an inflection point that is a bit later on this graph - 1984 - but no more difficult to discern. Before then, the trade balance was so close to parity, you'd almost think it might have been planned that way. Since then, it's been up-up-and-away, with only a pause in the 90's. This probably resulted from the '91 recession, but the trajectory was slowed - despite NAFTA - for most of the Clinton admistration. Again, we see a hint of a possible direction change at the end. We sure do live in interesting times.
While it's possible that the two graphed items are unconnected phenomena, I have tendency to find interconnectedness in everything (when I can get away with it.) Not necessarily a straight line, but Mark connects the dots like this:
Higher Trade Deficit -> Higher Unemployment -> Downward Wage Pressure
It's at least plausible. He also found an article relating trade balance to unemployment, with this statement.
We find a 60 to 72% correlation between the balance of a country’s trade and its overall Unemployment Rate. That is, countries with Trade surplus have lower Unemployment Rates while countries with Trade deficits tend to have higher unemployment.
That's pretty impressive correlation, and lends a lot of credence to the idea that we have been exporting jobs - to our detriment. And it looks like a policy-driven result.