Monday, July 13, 2009

Why Mixed Economy Is Necessary?

Mixed economy is actually the hybrid of free market and command economy. In other word, under this economic system the both the private sector and government will play some significant roles in the economy. Perhaps this mould is the best and that’s the reason most countries practice it. To be truthful, there is actually no pure capitalist or socialist state in the world as dictated in most textbooks. Consider US and the super-scale financial intervention. Look at Cuba. There are various attempts every year by the communist government to crack down small enterprise

From the given example, why both private and public sector need to co-exist? Simple. To overcome the weakness of one another

Why mixed economy is necessary?

(1) Job security. Private firms exist for a reason and that is to maximise profits. They are very responsive to market. In the period of boom, strong demand for their goods and services will lead to rise in employment. In recession like now, companies will not tolerate excess labours as keeping idle workers will simply raise production costs. Therefore, it is said that private workers stand a higher chance to lose employment
Unlike the government, they have to adhere to strict labour acts and laws. For instance, every year a percentage of new employees have to be appointed. Workers with certain years of experience must be promoted. Since the aim is to maximise welfare, therefore chances are slim for anyone to get retrenched. In fact more people will be absorbed during this economic turmoil

(2) Avoid exploitation. Since private enterprise is profit oriented, basic human rights such as education and healthcare may be denied and restricted only to the very few capable. If this were to happen, the gap in the literacy rate and income inequality between the upper and lower social class will widen. To narrow the gap, government sets up various public higher institution and NHS

(3) Regulation of monopoly firms. A monopolist is defined as a single seller of a good or service in the market. Legally, a company is considered as monopoly if the control of market share is greater than 25%. This is a classic example of market failure. Prices are often higher leading to a loss of consumer surplus. Also since monopolists face lesser or no competition, there is lack of incentive to be cost efficient. To overcome this, government can liberalise the product market. It involves breaking down barriers to entry and making them more contestable-to encourage entrance of more firms. This will boost market supply, bringing down prices for consumers and increase competition, investment and productivity. The expansion of European Single Market which seek to promote free movement of goods, services, labour and financial capital help to expedite the process of liberalisation. Also in UK, there are regulators for privatised utilities such as Ofwat, Ofcom, Ofgem and ORR

(4) Economic policy. This is one of the biggest responsibilities for government. Politicians and state economic advisors oversee the economic conditions of a country. In a recession, government will almost inevitably pump more money into the public sector. The money goes to repairing roads and bridges, building schools and hospitals, enlargement of government departments etc. The main aim is to create jobs. Also almost all tax will be lowered to increase spending and buying power. The independent financial institution such as Bank of England will likely reduce interest rates to encourage people to borrow and spend. The private sectors are only keen with profits and not state of the economy such as level of unemployment and inflation (although they contribute to it). Secondly, there is no way they can overtake governments in terms of financial capability

(5) Regulation of water and air pollution. Private enterprise was long known as the environmental villain. In the pursuit of greater profits, factories continuously consume scarce natural resources, and then belching out smoke, pouring out liquid effluents and dumping hazardous solid wastes irresponsibly. As such producers are said to be only concern with their own marginal private benefits (MPB) and marginal private costs (MPC) in decision making. This is why government needs to intervene and perhaps set certain level of compliance. For instance, the UK government is committed to meet the global and European targets of reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 80% in 2050

The EU government also introduced the Emission Carbon Trading (ETS) scheme in 2002. This will help limit the carbon emission in key industries such as energy, steel, cement, glass, brick-making, aircraft etc. The implementation to certain extent has some positive externalities. Other countries have begun to introduce such measures too

(6) Narrowing income inequality. In an almost-pure capitalist state, widening income disparity is a norm with the rich getting richer and the poor gets poorer. With no government intervention, at the end of day, we will have pyramid income distribution. The richest few will control larger proportion of the nation’s wealth or GDP. Again with state interventions, income can be distributed. First is the introduction of progressive tax system. Richer people will pay greater amount of tax than the poor. Also the introduction of national minimum wage which increases every year in UK in line with average earnings, unemployment and sickness benefits can help to mend the situation

(7) Provision of public goods. Public goods have two characteristics. First is non-rivalry. This means the consumption or usage of that public good will not reduce the amount available for other users. Second is non-excludability. Once provided, no one can be excluded from benefiting it. Clearly, private enterprise is not interested due to the problem of free rider. It is a situation where some people clearly ‘free-ride’ on those who pay for it without they themselves contributing anything. In the end, no one will be paying for it. Hence there will be need for government to provide it out of taxpayers’ money. This include street lighting, national defense and roads (quasi public-good)

No comments: