Research Topics

Publications on Profits

There are 3 publications for Profits.
  • Markups, Profit Shares, and Cost-Push-Profit-Led Inflation

    Working Paper No. 1037 | January 2024
    The post-pandemic surge in inflation was accompanied by a surge in the corporate share of profits. As a result, several economists and policy makers have given to it names such as “profit-led inflation” or “sellers’ inflation.” The present paper discusses the extent to which profit-led inflation, as an explanation for the recent surge in inflation, is compatible with what we know about the price-setting behavior of firms, income distribution, and inflation. We do that in juxtaposition to two recent critiques: that the increase in the profit share is the result of cyclical factors, and that the increase in import prices leads to higher profit shares even under constant markups. We show that there is little evidence that the recent surge in profitability is cyclical in nature. Moreover, after outlining the Structuralist/Kaleckian theories of prices and inflation we argue that profit-led inflation does not require an increase in the markup of the firms and is consistent with these theories. In the face of large import and other price shocks even under constant markups, firms are able to pass the burden of adjustment to real wages. Thus, the term profit-led emphasizes the distributional source and consequences of inflation. We also provide an empirical examination of the markups in the post-pandemic period using data from the Compustat database. We show that, on average, firms were able to increase or maintain their markups, although there is significant heterogeneity across sectors or the position of the firms in the distribution of markups.
    Associated Programs:
    Michalis Nikiforos Simon Grothe Jan David Weber

  • Banking Sector, Distributive Conflict, and Monetary Theory of Distribution

    Working Paper No. 1026 | August 2023
    This paper analyzes the implications of distributional contrast for the monetary theory of distribution. The first step is to try to introduce the banking sector within Pivetti's monetary distribution theory approach. Pivetti in fact does not analyze the links between the central bank and the banking sector. It therefore seems interesting to study what role the banking sector and the financial capitalists play in this framework. Thus, an attempt is made to model the banking sector and its links to the production sector within the framework of Pivetti’s approach. As this integration does not present any particular theoretical problems, the paper discusses then the ability of the aforementioned approach to explain the coexistence of near-zero (if not negative) interest rates and low real wages. The difficulty in explaining this economic phenomenon opens the way to a more general discussion of the dynamics inherent in the contrast between workers and capitalists and between financial and productive capitalists. Thus, the analysis shows that six different distributional configurations are possible (plus two others that are unstable or unrealistic), of which only two can be explained through Pivetti's monetary theory of distribution. The other four can be explained by elaborating more recent approaches that continue, enrich, and develop Marx's approach.
    Associated Program:
    Riccardo Zolea

  • Wage and Profit-led Growth

    Working Paper No. 775 | September 2013
    The Limits to Neo-Kaleckian Models and a Kaldorian Proposal

    We argue that a fundamental difference between Post-Keynesian approaches to economic growth lies in their treatment of investment. Kaleckian-Robinsonian models postulate an investment function dependent on the accelerator and profitability. Some of these models rely on the importance of profitability, captured by the profit share, to make the case for profit-led growth. For their part, Kaldorian models place the emphasis on the accelerator. More important, investment is a derived demand; that is, it is ruled by the adjustment of capacity to exogenous demand, which, in turn, determines the normal level of capacity utilization.

    In our view, the Kaldorian approach is better equipped to deal with some of the issues relating income distribution to accumulation with effective demand in the long run. We develop a Kaldorian open-economy model to examine the conditions under which an increase in real wages can produce profit or wage-led growth, showing that the limit to a wage-led expansion is a binding external constraint. The role and limitations of wages as a determinant of growth are further examined through spectral techniques and cycle analysis for a subset of developed economies. The evidence indicates that real wages are positively related to growth, investment, and capacity utilization. It also highlights the role of finance in sustaining expansions, suggesting that debt-led growth should not be identified with profit-led growth.

    Associated Program:
    Esteban Pérez Caldentey Matías Vernengo

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