Making a real recovery happen

Secretary-General of the OECD

The world economy remains gripped in the deepest and most widespread economic crisis in modern times. The latest update of the OECD Economic Outlook expects GDP to plummet by an average 4.3% in the OECD area in 2009, and world economic activity to shrink by 2.7%.

International trade will fall by some 13%, and by end-2010 unemployment will reach double figures in many countries, aggravating an unfolding social crisis. A policy-induced recovery is expected in 2010, but the risks remain tilted to the downside. No country will be immune from what is a truly global crisis.

It was to defy this bleak outlook that G20 leaders pledged in London on 2 April to do all they can to tackle the crisis, reform the failed financial system and restore confidence and growth. The summit was a success and reflected strong leadership and co-operation, as well as hard work behind the scenes by many international organisations, including the OECD.

The summit has raised people's hopes of a speedy upturn, with occasional sightings of "green shoots", no doubt partly as a result of some rather large fiscal stimulus packages-an average budget impact of 2.5% of GDP for those OECD countries that have launched them, and as much as 5.5% of 2008 GDP for the US.

Unfortunately, we are still at the beginning of the road to recovery. Unlike many previous recessions triggered by external shocks, this time a solid upturn will depend on repairing the economic system itself.

The OECD is intensifying its efforts to help governments overcome the crisis and prepare for the longer term. Our constantly updated Strategic Response supports the G20 pledges to restore confidence, growth and jobs; repair and strengthen the financial system; promote global trade and investment and reject protectionism; and build an inclusive, green and sustainable recovery for all, including poorer countries.

We have already issued several reports and assessments in response to government requests, for instance, on aligning stimulus measures with sustainable growth; on corporate governance; on building trust in global investment; on keeping markets open to trade and competition; and on tracking development aid.

A major responsibility of the OECD is to look beyond the crisis at the recovery that will eventually come. No one wants a return to business-as-usual, but governments are rightly anxious that today's measures to combat the crisis do not damage the long-term health of their economies. A first report which assesses different "exit strategies" for unwinding those emergency positions, particularly in financial markets, is now available from the OECD.

Our Strategic Response continues to deliver results in key areas. For example, we have delivered concrete breakthroughs in the vital area of tax evasion and the G20 pledge to "take action against noncooperative jurisdictions" and to end bank secrecy as part of an effort to protect public finances and financial systems.

OECD has long set the international standard for the exchange of information for tax purposes and we reported on progress in implementing that standard to the G20. Thanks to the summit, more was achieved to improve transparency in two or three weeks than in the last decade, with tax agreements signed and commitments made by several jurisdictions, from the Cayman Islands, Costa Rica and Macao, China to the Philippines, Switzerland and Uruguay.

This remarkable advance owes much to political determination, but action was made possible by having agreed an international standard in the first place. It is a key lesson, and momentum is now building within the G8 and G20 to develop common principles and standards on integrity, transparency and propriety for a range of other global challenges, including investment, the environment, labour and health.

The OECD is busy with other international organisations on this dossier too, having compiled an inventory of existing policy standards and instruments. Reviewing this dense armoury in light of the crisis should help identify which areas in the global framework need strengthening.

Many lessons will be drawn from this crisis, though few are as poignant as the need for countries to work together in a fastchanging world. As US President Obama jokingly put it at the G20, in the past a few major powers could agree over brandy and cigars, but today's world is more diverse, with players such as Brazil, China and South Africa influencing global policy, too.

Co-operation is what OECD stands for. Over the coming months, we will continue working side-by-side with the G8, G20, the EU, and emerging and developing countries in pushing for a stronger, cleaner and fairer world economy. We look forward to fostering more progress when governments and stakeholders from around the world gather for discussions in Paris at OECD Week, starting 22 June. The green shoots of recovery may still be thin, but our determination grows stronger by the day.


See OECD's response to the crisis: www.oecd.org/crisisresponse

See also www.oecd.org/secretarygeneral 

Read all articles by Angel Gurría: www.oecdobserver.org/angelgurria

©OECD Observer No. 272, April 2009




Economic data

GDP growth: +0.6% Q2 2018 year-on-year
Consumer price inflation: 2.9% Sept 2018 annual
Trade: +2.7% exp, +3.0% imp, Q4 2017
Unemployment: 5.2% Sept 2018
Last update: 13 Nov 2018

E-Newsletter

Stay up-to-date with the latest news from the OECD by signing up for our e-newsletter :

Twitter feed

Suscribe now

<b>Subscribe now!</b>

To receive your exclusive paper editions delivered to you directly


Online edition
Previous editions

Don't miss

  • Food production will suffer some of the most immediate and brutal effects of climate change, with some regions of the world suffering far more than others. Only through unhindered global trade can we ensure that high-quality, nutritious food reaches those who need it most, Angel Gurría, Secretary-General of the OECD, and José Graziano da Silva, Director-General of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, write in their latest Project Syndicate article. Read the article here.
  • Globalisation will continue and get stronger, and how to harness it is the great challenge, says OECD Secretary-General Gurría on Bloomberg TV. Watch the interview here.
  • OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría with UN Secretary-General António Guterres at the 73rd Session of the UN General Assembly, in New York City.
  • The new OECD Observer Crossword, with Myles Mellor. Try it online!
  • Watch the webcast of the final press conference of the OECD annual ministerial meeting 2018.
  • Listen to the "Robots are coming for our jobs" episode of The Guardian's "Chips with Everything podcast", in which The Guardian’s economics editor, Larry Elliott, and Jeremy Wyatt, a professor of robotics and artificial intelligence at the University of Birmingham, and Jordan Erica Webber, freelance journalist, discuss the findings of the new OECD report "Automation, skills use and training". Listen here.
  • Do we really know the difference between right and wrong? Alison Taylor of BSR and Susan Hawley of Corruption Watch tell us why it matters to play by the rules. Watch the recording of our Facebook live interview here.
  • Has public decision-making been hijacked by a privileged few? Watch the recording of our Facebook live interview with Stav Shaffir, MK (Zionist Union) Chair of the Knesset Committee on Transparency here.
  • Can a nudge help us make more ethical decisions? Watch the recording of our Facebook live interview with Saugatto Datta, managing director at ideas42 here.
  • The fight against tax evasion is gaining further momentum as Barbados, Côte d’Ivoire, Jamaica, Malaysia, Panama and Tunisia signed the BEPS Multilateral Convention on 24 January, bringing the total number of signatories to 78. The Convention strengthens existing tax treaties and reduces opportunities for tax avoidance by multinational enterprises.
  • Rousseau
  • Do you trust your government? The OECD’s How's life 2017 report finds that only 38% of people in OECD countries trust their government. How can we improve our old "Social contract?" Read more.
  • Globalisation’s many benefits have been unequally shared, and public policy has struggled to keep up with a rapidly-shifting world. The OECD is working alongside governments and international organisations to help improve and harness the gains while tackling the root causes of inequality, and ensuring a level playing field globally. Please watch.
  • Checking out the job situation with the OECD scoreboard of labour market performances: do you want to know how your country compares with neighbours and competitors on income levels or employment?
  • Trade is an important point of focus in today’s international economy. This video presents facts and statistics from OECD’s most recent publications on this topic.
  • The OECD Gender Initiative examines existing barriers to gender equality in education, employment, and entrepreneurship. The gender portal monitors the progress made by governments to promote gender equality in both OECD and non-OECD countries and provides good practices based on analytical tools and reliable data.
  • Interested in a career in Paris at the OECD? The OECD is a major international organisation, with a mission to build better policies for better lives. With our hub based in one of the world's global cities and offices across continents, find out more at www.oecd.org/careers .
  • Visit the OECD Gender Data Portal. Selected indicators shedding light on gender inequalities in education, employment and entrepreneurship.

Most Popular Articles

OECD Insights Blog

NOTE: All signed articles in the OECD Observer express the opinions of the authors
and do not necessarily represent the official views of OECD member countries.

All rights reserved. OECD 2018