These are sensible measures, so long as they are time-limited; for, in the short term, governments need to do all they can to sustain demand. But the jobs crisis, alas, is unlikely to be short-lived. Even if the recession ends soon (and there is little sign of that happening), the asset bust and the excessive borrowing that led to it are likely to overshadow the world economy for many years to come. Moreover, many of yesterday’s jobs, from Spanish bricklayer to Wall Street trader, are not coming back. People will have to shift out of old occupations and into new ones.
A difficult dance 艰难的舞步
Over the next couple of years, politicians will have to perform a difficult policy U-turn; for, in the long term, they need flexible labour markets. That will mean abolishing job-subsidy programmes, taking away protected workers’ privileges and making it easier for businesses to restructure by laying people off. Countries such as Japan, with two-tier workforces in which an army of temporary workers with few protections toil alongside mollycoddled folk with many, will need to narrow that disparity by making the latter easier to fire.