Monopoly capitalism, profits, income distribution and unionism
This thesis aims to extend our understanding of the contemporary stage of monopoly capitalism by considering the issue of profits, income distribution and trade unionism. By focusing on the effect of trade unions on key economic indicators we hope to demonstrate the key importance of both trade unions and market structure in shaping the industrial economic landscape. Using national accounts and census of production data we find that there is a secular tendency for the degree of monopoly to rise although we find little evidence to suggests a similar decline in the profit rate. It also emerges that unions cannot easily influence factor shares. We go on to make the case for a fundamental reappraisal of the role of labour within the firm. We then provide an assessment of the effect of unions within oligopoly. Using firm level data we illustrate that there is a significant degree of apparent collusion within oligopoly and that this is influenced by product market structure and trade unionism. We consider the effects of both structure and unionism in shaping industry profits. We find that for the mid-1980's unions depress mark-ups whilst increasing concentration impacts positively on the margin. We further show that the effect of concentration in successively related industry adds to the seller margin and does not reflect countervailing power. We also find evidence that union coverage in downstream industries adversely affects the seller margin in 1984-85. Finally, we consider the role of trade union power in shaping factor distribution in the manufacturing sector. We find that unions cannot easily influence the distribution of income but that seller concentration significantly depresses wage share. These results are of considerable interest and attest to the importance of considering both product and labour market interaction in shaping key economic variables.