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Rentier Incomes and Financial Crises: An Empirical Examination of Trends and Cycles in Some OECD Countries

We present new estimates of the rentier share of national income for OECD countries for the years between 1960 and 2000. For most countries, the rentier share of income significantly increased during the last several decades, starting in the early 1980's and coinciding with the shift to neo-liberal monetary and financial policies initiated by Margaret Thatcher and Paul Volcker. There is no evidence of a negative correlation between rentier shares and non-financial corporate shares of income. However, rentier shares do decline in those semi-industrialized countries that experienced financial crises. These findings are consistent with the view that financial liberalization has been associated with the increased power of an international rentier class, whose interests are aligned with those of non-financial corporations in the richer countries, but whose interests conflict with rentiers in developing countries that experience financial crises.

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