Here, featuring my take on the IMF's recent report (PDF) on the relationship between equality, redistribution and growth.
I've already linked to other responses to the report from the Guardian and the Economist. But the column raises a point left largely unaddressed in those pieces - and which seems particularly important given some of the advice regularly dispensed to Canadian progressives.
I'll sum up that advice as being "don't worry about market inequality - instead, address poverty and inequality through taxation and redistribution". Which makes for a neat enough recommendation on its face - and has led me to see a guaranteed annual income as the single policy with the greatest potential to ensure broad equality and security.
But Ostry, Berg and Tsangarides find that while an equal initial distribution of income doesn't harm an economy's growth (and indeed contributes a small positive effect), particularly high levels of after-market redistribution give rise to some negative effect on growth. And those naturally arise only where pre-market distributions are so unequal to give rise to a need for exceptionally high transfers.
In other words, the study shows no drag on growth arising out of policies which encourage pre-market equality (though I'll note that it doesn't break down the policies and social factors supporting those more equal market distributions). But it does identify some perceptible drag on growth arising out of policies which settle for redistribution after the fact - which suggests to me that we should be focusing relatively more attention on the former than the latter.
Naturally, I'll invite any questions or comments about that line of reasoning. And I certainly don't see it as ruling out transfers as an important means of ensuring equality. But it does seem to me to suggest that a singular focus on after-market redistribution may have harmful economic effects (in addition to being politically implausible) - which confirming that broadly-shared high wages and effective worker bargaining power are necessary elements of a fair and prosperous economy.