The notion of ‘social justice’ emerged in political economy debates in the XIX century. This concept was developed particularly by Walras and by Catholic social economists. While Walras found inspiration in the view of natural law expressed by Quesnay, Catholic economists based their reflections on the Neo-Thomistic (or New Scholastic) philosophical thought developed by the Jesuits.
We first study the main differences in the use of this concept among economists in the second half of the XIX century. Second, we analyse the connection between the notion of social justice and the ‘classical’ natural law from which it was derived. Then we highlight the debate which developed around this concept between the main currents of Roman Catholic social economics and the official adoption in encyclicals Quadragesimo Anno and Divini Redemptoris. This essay concludes by examining the impact that differing definitions of rights and the law have had on economic theory.
Key words: Social justice, Thomism, Classic natural law, Quesnay, Walras.
JEL Classification: B49, P48, Z12.
This paper studies the factors that determine unpaid labour in a voluntary organization, a political party and a trade union. Official data has been taken from Indagine Multiscopo sulla Famiglia, Aspetti della Vita Quotidiana (1997), of the National Institute of Statistics (ISTAT). In particular, the study looks at whether the decision to do voluntary work is a consumer activity and/or an investment activity. Empirical evidence shows that the supply of employed volunteers in a voluntary organization presents characteristics both of consumer and investment activity. The investment motive drives the employed individuals to offer time to a political party and a trade union, while the private consumer and the relational goods consumer encourage unemployed individuals to donate time to a voluntary organization.
Key words: voluntary work, social capital, relational goods.
JEL Classification: C13, C21, C31, D12, Z13.
In the era of «small government», policy was considered the right way to conceive the role of the state in society and in the economy. This was intended as a perspective able to reduce the room for politics, considered a (dangerous) clash of power and party interests, and ideology. Given the current return of «big government», how does one deal with the unavoidable return of politics? In this paper we construct a model showing that politics should be considered purposely in a rational setting, to support effective policy, insofar as the state and its activities need substantial consensus.
Key words: Politics, policy-making, local public goods, redistributive policies, elections.
JEL Classification: D72, H40, H11.
This paper studies how firms adapt hours and employment to changes in business conditions. For this purpose we build a formal model which accounts for dynamic uncertainty and costly adjustments on both margins of the labour input. Using stochastic methods we find that the optimal employment policy is characterised by inaction as long as hours remain within an interval which includes standard working time. As a consequence, hiring and firing take place only when hours reach the upper and the lower boundaries of the interval. We also apply the model to a study of the impact
of worksharing and find that such arrangements not only make firms more reluctant to fire in bad times but also more willing to hire when business conditions improve.
Key words: Labour Demand, Turnover Costs, Dynamic Stochastic Optimisation.
JEL Classification: J23, J32, J63.
The aim of this paper is that of giving a finer insight into the analytic foundations of vector autoregressive models (VAR) in comparison with classical econometric models. To this end we show the links between the techniques of structural and VAR model building on the one hand, and the econometric profiles of dynamic modelling on the other. The solutions engendered by both approaches, which share a common difference-equation ancestry, call for a matrix polynomial inversion by either Taylor or Laurent expansions. The former is true for classical econometrics, where unit roots are ruled out, whereas the latter comes to the fore in time-series econometrics, with unit roots and cointegration as an added value. The derivation of the intended result, as well as the
econometric interpretation of the solutions, rest on a neat algebraic and statistical apparatus.
Key words: Structural Model, Final Form, VAR Model, Representation Theorem.
JEL Classification: C30, C32, C50
This article addresses the origins and development of the present financial and real economic? crisis (2008-2009). It is shown how abundant liquidity and easy credit in the US housing market inflated world financial markets with credit-based bonds whose risk was largely underestimated. When the real risk of these bonds was correctly perceived it was too late. Unprecedented levels of insolvency ravaged the US and to some extent also the EU and Asian economies. Stock markets were much damaged all over the world. The way the real economy is hit by a generalized stock market fall is investigated, as is the related malfunctioning of the banking system. Problems regarding ultimate responsibility for the crisis and the necessary changes to be introduced into financial market regulation are also touched upon. Finally the likely conclusion of the crisis and prospects for the world economy in the coming years are considered.
Key words: ABS, CDS, crisis, financial crisis, global crisis, MBS, stock markets, vehicle.
JEL Classification: E32, E44, E65, G14.
This paper focuses on microcredit, a financial tool adopted in many countries to fight financial exclusion and poverty. By employing microcredit strategies, small loans are granted to low income households who would ‘naturally’ be excluded from the formal financial system. Thus, microcredit enables low income households to create and expand microenterprises or to address temporary liquidity budget problems. We review the main causes of credit exclusion of low income households and discuss the role of innovative micro-lending strategies that aim to limit the ‘imperfections’ of the credit markets. Then, we analyze size, targets and the various ways this instrument has been adopted in industrialized nations versus developing nations. Finally the paper provides an up-to-date
overview of the microcredit sector in Europe, focusing particularly on the development of microcredit in Italy as a case-study.
Key words: Financial Exclusion, Microcredit, Poverty.
JEL Classification: D53, G21, I32, I38.