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Full Employment Abandoned

Shifting Sands and Policy Failures
William Mitchell, Professor of Economics, Centre of Full Employment and Equity, University of Newcastle, Australia and Joan Muysken, Professor of Economics, CofFEE-Europe, University of Maastricht, The Netherlands
This book dismantles the arguments used by policy makers to justify the abandonment of full employment as a valid goal of national governments. Bill Mitchell and Joan Muysken trace the theoretical analysis of the nature and causes of unemployment over the last 150 years and argue that the shift from involuntary to ‘natural rate’ conceptions of unemployment since the 1960s has driven an ideological backlash against Keynesian policy interventions.
Extent: 320 pp
Hardback Price: £88.00 Online: £79.20
Publication Date: 2008
ISBN: 978 1 85898 507 7
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  • Economics and Finance
  • Labour Economics
This book dismantles the arguments used by policy makers to justify the abandonment of full employment as a valid goal of national governments. Bill Mitchell and Joan Muysken trace the theoretical analysis of the nature and causes of unemployment over the last 150 years and argue that the shift from involuntary to ‘natural rate’ conceptions of unemployment since the 1960s has driven an ideological backlash against Keynesian policy interventions.

The authors contend that neo-liberal governments now consider unemployment to be an individual problem rather than a reflection of systemic policy failure and that they are content to use unemployment as a policy instrument to control inflation and coerce the unemployed with work tests and compliance programmes rather than provide sufficient employment. They present a comprehensive theoretical and empirical critique of this policy approach, with a refreshing new framework for understanding modern monetary economies. The authors show that the reinstatement of full employment with price stability is a viable policy goal that can be achieved by activist fiscal policy through the introduction of a Job Guarantee.

Full Employment Abandoned will appeal to graduate and postgraduate students and researchers of economics and politics with an interest in macroeconomic policy and the labour market, particularly unemployment and neo-liberal policy frameworks.
‘This book by William Mitchell and Joan Muysken is both important and timely. It deals with the issue of the abandonment of full employment as an objective of economic policy in the OECD countries. It argues persuasively that macroeconomic policy has been restrictive over the recent, and not so recent past, and has produced substantial open and disguised unemployment. But the authors show how a job guarantee policy can enable workers, who would otherwise be unemployed, to earn a wage and not depend on welfare support. If such a policy is fully supported by appropriate fiscal and monetary programmes, it can create full employment with price stability, which the authors label as a Non-Accelerating-Inflation-Buffer Employment Ratio (NAIBER). This book is essential reading for any one wishing to understand how we can return to full employment as the normal state of affairs.’
– Philip Arestis, University of Cambridge, UK
Contents: Part I: Full Employment: Changing Views and Policies 1. The Full Employment Framework and its Demise 2. Early Views on Unemployment and the Phillips Curve 3. The Phillips Curve and Shifting Views on Unemployment 4. The Troublesome NAIRU: The Hoax that Undermined Full Employment Part II: Full Employment Abandoned: Shifting Sands and Policy Failures 5. The Shift to Full Employability 6. Inflation First: The New Mantra of Macroeconomics 7. The Neglected Role of Aggregate Demand Part III: The Urgency of Full Employment: Foundations for an Active Policy 8. A Monetary Framework for Fiscal Policy Activism 9. Buffer Stocks and Price Stability 10. Conclusion: The Urgency of Full Employment References Index