Munich Personal RePEc Archive

The Global Rise of Asset Prices and the Decline of the Labor Share

Gonzalez, Ignacio and Trivin, Pedro (2019): The Global Rise of Asset Prices and the Decline of the Labor Share.

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The labor income share has been decreasing across countries since the early 1980s, sparking a growing literature about the causes of this trend (Karabarbounis and Neiman, 2014; Piketty and Zucman, 2014; among many others). At the same time, there has been a steady increase in asset prices. We build a simple model to argue that the increase in the value of financial assets crowds out capital formation. The negative impact of asset prices on the capital-output ratio declines the labor share if capital and labor are aggregate complements. Based on a common factor model, we find that the global increase of Tobin's Q can account for up to 57% of the labor share decline. We highlight three potential factors that operate through the same theoretical channel: capital income taxes, capitalized market power rents and corporate governance frictions.

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