During the last decades, labour markets in many countries have been deregulated and trade union strength has declined. Trade liberalization and deregulated financial, product and labour markets created a mutually reinforcing trend towards weaker regulatory provisions. Lower labour market protection and increased precarious employment resulted in a declining wage share and growing inequality. The lack of wage-based aggregate demand that followed from these dysfunctional developments translated into massive export surpluses in some countries and debt-financed consumption in others. The crisis has proved that both trends were unsustainable.