Best of the Week
Most Popular
1. Stock Markets and the History Chart of the End of the World (With Presidential Cycles) - 28th Aug 20
2.Google, Apple, Amazon, Facebook... AI Tech Stocks Buying Levels and Valuations Q3 2020 - 31st Aug 20
3.The Inflation Mega-trend is Going Hyper! - 11th Sep 20
4.Is this the End of Capitalism? - 13th Sep 20
5.What's Driving Gold, Silver and What's Next? - 3rd Sep 20
6.QE4EVER! - 9th Sep 20
7.Gold Price Trend Forecast Analysis - Part1 - 7th Sep 20
8.The Fed May “Cause” The Next Stock Market Crash - 3rd Sep 20
9.Bitcoin Price Crash - You Will be Suprised What Happens Next - 7th Sep 20
10.NVIDIA Stock Price Soars on RTX 3000 Cornering the GPU Market for next 2 years! - 3rd Sep 20
Last 7 days
The Only Thing Systematic Is The Destruction Of America - 29th Sep 20
Fractional-Reserve Banking Is The Elephant In The Room - 29th Sep 20
Gold And Silver Follow Up & Future Predictions For 2020 & 2021 – Part I - 29th Sep 20
Stock Market Short-term Reversal - 29th Sep 20
How Trump co-opted the religious right and stacked the courts with conservatives - 29th Sep 20
Which RTX 3080 GPU to BUY and AVOID! Nvidia, Asus, MSI , Palit, Gigabyte, Zotac, MLCC vs POSCAPS - 29th Sep 20
Gold, Silver & HUI Stocks Big Pictures - 28th Sep 20
It’s Time to Dump Argentina’s Peso - 28th Sep 20
Gold Stocks Seasonal Plunge - 28th Sep 20
Why Did Precious Metals Get Clobbered Last Week? - 28th Sep 20
Is The Stock Market Dow Transportation Index Setting up a Topping Pattern? - 28th Sep 20
Gold Price Setting Up Just Like Before COVID-19 Breakdown – Get Ready! - 27th Sep 20
UK Coronavirus 2nd Wave SuperMarkets Panic Buying 2.0 Toilet Paper , Hand Sanitisers, Wipes... - 27th Sep 20
Gold, Dollar and Rates: A Correlated Story - 27th Sep 20
WARNING RTX 3080 AIB FLAWED Card's, Cheap Capacitor Arrays Prone to Failing Under Load! - 27th Sep 20
Boris Johnson Hits Coronavirus Panic Button Again, UK Accelerting Covid-19 Second Wave - 25th Sep 20
Precious Metals Trading Range Doing It’s Job to Confound Bulls and Bears Alike - 25th Sep 20
Gold and Silver Are Still Locked and Loaded… Don't be Out of Ammo - 25th Sep 20
Throwing the golden baby out with the covid bath water - Gold Wins - 25th Sep 20
A Look at the Perilous Psychology of Financial Market Bubbles - 25th Sep 20
Corona Strikes Back In Europe. Will It Boost Gold? - 25th Sep 20
How to Boost the Value of Your Home - 25th Sep 20
Key Time For Stock Markets: Bears Step Up or V-Shaped Bounce - 24th Sep 20
Five ways to recover the day after a good workout - 24th Sep 20
Global Stock Markets Break Hard To The Downside – Watch Support Levels - 23rd Sep 20
Beware of These Faulty “Inflation Protected” Investments - 23rd Sep 20
What’s Behind Dollar USDX Breakout? - 23rd Sep 20
Still More Room To Stock Market Downside In The Coming Weeks - 23rd Sep 20
Platinum And Palladium Set To Surge As Gold Breaks Higher - 23rd Sep 20
Key Gold Ratios to Other Markets - 23rd Sep 20
Watch Before Upgrading / Buying RTX 3000, RDNA2 - CPU vs GPU Bottlenecks - 23rd Sep 20
Online Elliott Wave Markets Trading Course Worth $129 for FREE! - 22nd Sep 20
Gold Price Overboughtness Risk - 22nd Sep 20
Central Banking Cartel Promises ZIRP Until at Least 2023 - 22nd Sep 20
Stock Market Correction Approaching Initial Objective - 22nd Sep 20
Silver Bulls Will Be Handsomely Rewarded - 21st Sep 20
Fed Will Not Hike Rates For Years. Gold Should Like It - 21st Sep 20
US Financial Market Forecasts and Elliott Wave Analysis Resources - 21st Sep 20
How to Avoid Currency Exchange Risk during COVID - 21st Sep 20
Crude Oil – A Slight Move Higher Has Not Reversed The Bearish Trend - 20th Sep 20
Do This Instead Of Trying To Find The “Next Amazon” - 20th Sep 20
5 Significant Benefits of the MT4 Trading Platform for Forex Traders - 20th Sep 20
A Warning of Economic Collapse - 20th Sep 20
The Connection Between Stocks and the Economy is not What Most Investors Think - 19th Sep 20
A Virus So Deadly, The Government Has to Test You to See If You Have It - 19th Sep 20
Will Lagarde and Mnuchin Push Gold Higher? - 19th Sep 20
RTX 3080 Mania, Ebay Scalpers Crazy Prices £62,000 Trollers Insane Bids for a £649 GPU! - 19th Sep 20
A Greater Economic Depression For The 21st Century - 19th Sep 20
The United Floor in Stocks - 19th Sep 20
Mobile Gaming Market Trends And The Expected Future Developments - 19th Sep 20
The S&P 500 appears ready to correct, and that is a good thing - 18th Sep 20
It’s Go Time for Gold Price! Next Stop $2,250 - 18th Sep 20
Forget AMD RDNA2 and Buy Nvidia RTX 3080 FE GPU's NOW Before Price - 18th Sep 20
Best Back to School / University Black Face Masks Quick and Easy from Amazon - 18th Sep 20
3 Types of Loans to Buy an Existing Business - 18th Sep 20
How to tell Budgie Gender, Male or Female Sex for Young and Mature Parakeets - 18th Sep 20
Fasten Your Seatbelts Stock Market Make Or Break – Big Trends Ahead - 17th Sep 20
Peak Financialism And Post-Capitalist Economics - 17th Sep 20
Challenges of Working from Home - 17th Sep 20
Sheffield Heading for Coronavirus Lockdown as Covid Deaths Pass 432 - 17th Sep 20
What Does this Valuable Gold Miners Indicator Say Now? - 16th Sep 20
President Trump and Crimes Against Humanity - 16th Sep 20
Slow Economic Recovery from CoronaVirus Unlikely to Impede Strong Demand for Metals - 16th Sep 20
Why the Knives Are Out for Trump’s Fed Critic Judy Shelton - 16th Sep 20
Operation Moonshot: Get Ready for Millions of New COVAIDS Positives in the UK! - 16th Sep 20
Stock Market Approaching Correction Objective - 15th Sep 20
Look at This Big Reminder of Dot.com Stock Market Mania - 15th Sep 20
Three Key Principles for Successful Disruption Investors - 15th Sep 20
Billionaire Hedge Fund Manager Warns of 10% Inflation - 15th Sep 20
Gold Price Reaches $2,000 Amid Dollar Depreciation - 15th Sep 20
GLD, IAU Big Gold ETF Buying MIA - 14th Sep 20
Why Bill Gates Is Betting Millions on Synthetic Biology - 14th Sep 20
Stock Market SPY Expectations For The Rest Of September - 14th Sep 20
Gold Price Gann Angle Update - 14th Sep 20
Stock Market Recovery from the Sharp Correction Goes On - 14th Sep 20
Is this the End of Capitalism? - 13th Sep 20
The Silver Big Prize - 13th Sep 20
U.S. Shares Plunged. Is Gold Next? - 13th Sep 20
Why Are 7,500 Oil Barrels Floating on this London Lake? - 13th Sep 20
Sheffield 432 Covid-19 Deaths, Last City Centre Shop Before Next Lockdown - 13th Sep 20
Biden or Trump Will Keep The Money Spigots Open - 13th Sep 20
Gold And Silver Up, Down, Sideways, Up - 13th Sep 20

Market Oracle FREE Newsletter

How to Get Rich Investing in Stocks by Riding the Electron Wave

The High Cost of Minimum Wages

Economics / Wages May 31, 2014 - 12:13 PM GMT

By: MISES

Economics

In Switzerland on May 18 there was a vote to establish a minimum wage rate at a world record $25 an hour: the vote was rejected overwhelmingly as an estimated 76 percent voted against it.

As USA Today reported, there have been strong opinions in both directions. Luisa Almeida, a Portuguese immigrant working in Switzerland, said that she’s against the increase because according to her,“if my employer had to pay me more money, he wouldn’t be able to keep me on and I’d lose the job.” Furthermore, even though Switzerland does not currently have any laws regarding minimum wage rates, Luisa said she already makes more than she would at home in Portugal (where minimum wage is $4.19 per hour).


On the other hand, senior economist in the Wage Group of the International Labor Office in Geneva, Patrick Belser, argued that “international experience has shown that minimum wages can prevent labor exploitation without having any negative effect on the economy,” but that perhaps the proposed rate might be too high.

Aside from such emotionally charged language — as the very word “exploitation” is inappropriate when discussing voluntary relations among individuals —Belser doesn’t say how he can possibly distinguish between wage rates that are too low or too high versus rates that are just right.

In fact, if one were to go off “international experience” alone — an approach that is hardly adequate, yet has been dissected elsewhere — one would have to conclude that minimum wage rates are clearly harmful for workers. Thus in the US where minimum wage is $7.25 an hour, the average household income is $4,300 a month; in Switzerland, where there is no minimum wage, the average is $6,800.

Nevertheless, in order to positively answer the question of whether or not minimum wage laws can actually be successful in permanently raising wage rates, statistics only go so far; in order to interpret them, reference must be made to sound economic theory.

According to the latter, the only way to raise real wage rates — which are unarguably more important than money wage rates, since money is only valued on the basis of the real goods it can be exchanged for — is to raise the marginal productivity of labor. What is meant by “marginal productivity” is nothing more than the relative contribution a productive factor makes to the production process, and it is increased through capital accumulation, such as the building of bigger, better machines, etc.

Moreover, it isn’t labor per se that is actually bought on the market by employers — as people themselves cannot be bought and sold — but more specifically labor services, the prices of which are determined by supply and demand — as are all prices in the economy.

In this vein, it is prudent to think of minimum wage statutes in the same manner that one thinks of price controls generally: if a given price is forced below the market rate, shortages will occur; if a price is forced above the market rate, unsold surpluses will accumulate. The nuisance of unemployment, then, is to be simply explained as a surplus of labor services, the natural result of minimum wage laws which force wage rates above the market price.

Insofar as concern is expressed for low-income workers — the ones whom minimum wage laws are intended to benefit — it seems rather arbitrary and unwarranted to not be concerned also about those that will lose their jobs.

But it has become a common habit of thought among economists to separate aspects of the economy into neatly separated compartments, leading them to gloss over the cause-and-effect relationships mentioned above. An example is the very existence of the Wage Group of which Belser is a part. Other examples include such sub-disciplines as financial economics, information economics, agricultural economics, etc., none of which are integrated with the others.

Yet by approaching the issue from such a close-minded perspective, one is certain to miss the broader picture, namely that the market economy is a complex, interconnected system, and that market prices are interdependent.

Thus to the extent that low-income workers are not laid-off and minimum wage laws appear to be successful in raising wage rates, what remains unseen is the redirection of resources that ensues. In other words, producers will simply buy less labor since it is now more expensive, and will likely choose to invest in other opportunities which now appear more profitable than before.

Returning once more to that immutable law of supply and demand, when the demand for a good or service declines while the supply for sale remains the same, the price will decline also. So to the extent that wages increase, the business demand for labor services will in turn decrease, which has the effect of returning wages relatively to their former levels.

Aside from lay-offs, all of this may be seen through cutting hours (specifically overtime hours), cutting benefits (such as pensions or health insurance), or simply outsourcing, none of which benefit low-income workers.

It bears repeating that the only way to raise wages in the market economy, whether in Switzerland or elsewhere, is to increase the marginal productivity of labor, a goal that cannot be attained through government intervention, but only through sound investment.

As economist and Nobel Prize laureate F.A. Hayek summarized quite well, prices contain information about efficient courses of action. Prices in this sense function as signals assisting all market participants (entrepreneurs, laborers, etc.) to satisfy their desires. Without prices, there would be no way to decide between the profitability of various alternatives.

However, by interfering with the market process in any way whatsoever, the price system is disrupted from functioning as it normally would and begins to give unreliable signals. The inevitable outcome is always lower standards of living for those concerned.

Left alone, the market always allocates resources to the highest bidder i.e., to their most highly valued uses and through this process of investment and reinvestment, capital is accumulated and the marginal productivity of labor increases. Thus when the market remains free, wages and living standards are seen to continually increase as well.

Ben Wiegold is a staunch anarcho-capitalist and has been educating himself through the Mises Institute since 2011. He is also a self-taught musician who has played with a number of small bands in the Chicagoland area. See Benjamin M. Wiegold's article archives.

You can subscribe to future articles by Benjamin M. Wiegold via this RSS feed.

© 2014 Copyright Ludwig von Mises - All Rights Reserved Disclaimer: The above is a matter of opinion provided for general information purposes only and is not intended as investment advice. Information and analysis above are derived from sources and utilising methods believed to be reliable, but we cannot accept responsibility for any losses you may incur as a result of this analysis. Individuals should consult with their personal financial advisors.


© 2005-2019 http://www.MarketOracle.co.uk - The Market Oracle is a FREE Daily Financial Markets Analysis & Forecasting online publication.


Post Comment

Only logged in users are allowed to post comments. Register/ Log in

6 Critical Money Making Rules