Workers’ Indebtedness and Rentier Squeeze: rentier income, profit of enterprise, and wages in Brazil (2000–2017)

The purpose of this paper is to locate rentiers in the Brazilian distributive conflict. A rentier income share is estimated and compared to the shares of wages and profit of enterprise for the period between 2000 and 2017. The estimation allows for an analysis of the role played by interest payments out of wage income and profits in the tripartite functional income distribution, as well as an examination of the trajectory of the income of the financial firms. From 2004 to 2011, pressures from rising wages were shifted from functioning capitalists to rentiers and from the latter back to workers, as rentiers managed to compensate for the fall of property income received from functioning capitalists with a rising interest income coming from workers. In the period between 2012 and 2013, however, rentiers exhausted their ability to pass on the distributive pressures to workers and experienced an income squeeze.

Keywords: Financialisation, rentier income share, functional income distribution, Brazilian economy