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Investment Stimulation, with Some Reference to Housing

By Jacques H. DREZE, Alain DURRE and Henri R. SNEESSENS

Abstract

This paper is a follow-up on Section 5 of Drèze, Malinvaud et al.’s 1994 position paper on “Growth and Employment : The Scope for a European Initiative”, in favour of policies aiming to sustain demand through investments, without aggravating public deficits. We build on several recent papers to investigate further the argument. We first briefly review a non-standard theoretical model based upon contemporaneous thinking about incompleteness of markets, and its econometric validation. This analysis suggests that policies aimed at stimulating aggregate activity and supporting more optimistic expectations may be needed to achieve faster growth in economies suffering from persistent underutilistion of resources. We next elaborate on the principle of employment subsidies, with reference to housing. At times of severe unemployment, a correct evaluation of investment projects must take into account the wedge between the private and the social cost of labour. This labour cost distortion generates a discouting distortion. We briefly discuss both and derive implications for investment stimulation policies. We also review the main problems of implementation of a European investment program and report on a preliminary attempt at checking the applicability to housing in Wallony.

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