5The Return of Inequalities and Rents

The obvious growing inequalities, evidenced by a number of empirical studies1, are largely the result of entrepreneurs’ and financiers’ behavior and their choice, conditioned by institutions, to prioritize the short term. The question that arises is whether this evolution reflects the emergence of a new global order responding to new technological or market conditions or whether we have to worry about the powerful rise of a form of disorder jeopardizing the stability of society as a whole.

Neither the qualification bias introduced by technical progress nor changes that new technologies introduce into the market structure can be enough to explain this growing inequalities. This is because the distribution of income not only records technical performance but also reflects social positions and political choices. Also, as Ricardo imagined, we must then consider that income distribution affects the accumulation of capital and consequently technological choices and not the reverse2. As will be seen below, a widening of inequalities and the accompanying polarization of jobs can have the effect of reducing the potential for growth by affecting the nature of implemented technologies. Another effect includes increasing the risk of financial instability. This evolution often reflects a shortening of decision makers’ time horizons. There is, therefore, the risk of a rent-seekers’ economy taking precedence and initiating a new and fragile social order. ...

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