©Andrew Wheeler/OECD

The world economy desperately needs more productive investment: to create jobs, to increase productivity and to meet critical global goals like combating climate change. But instead of more productive investment, we are getting rising stock markets. Sadly too many policymakers and journalists don’t know the difference. Let’s start off with the basic confusion. Investment is when savings are used to pay for the creation of new productive assets–improvements in land, new buildings, machinery, computer software, the education of workers to create human capital.

©Rights reserved, Shanghai Development Research Foundation

In October 2014 China launched the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), drawing wide international attention. Nearly 60 countries have joined the new international financial institution, including several OECD member and partner countries, though others have remained cautiously outside. What is the purpose of the new bank and what impact will it have? We asked Yide Qiao for his views. I guess there are several reasons for launching the new bank. 

©Julien Daniel/OECD

The promotion of responsible business conduct has taken an important step forward with the launch of a new reporting framework. Businesses now have no excuse for not explaining how they’re meeting their human rights obligations. 

©Rights reserved

Social entrepreneurs and governments speak different languages. However, understanding each other is essential to achieve quality of life through the businesses we start, grow and scale. While sharing a goal for a healthier society, it remains a challenge for new entrepreneurs and governments to work together: first, to integrate the different ambitions, values and cultures of (social) entrepreneurs, civil servants and politicians; second, to be aligned in the acceptance, timing and implementation of societal solutions through enterprising citizens. What is the role of business in creating spaces for social entrepreneurship and a more collaborative economy?

©Adriana Krnáčová/Rights reserved

A city’s brand is pivotal for its position in global society, particularly in global competition. Indeed, a city has many aspects of a commercial product. The very strong international brand that I represent is Prague, the million-strong capital of the Czech Republic. Public perceptions of this brand generally focus on its cultural heritage, such as the Prague Castle and Charles Bridge, as well as its leading industries, science and research. This perception is an accurate one, and is how our city wishes to be seen.

©Bundesregierung/Bergmann

Investments are a precondition of future sustainable growth. However, investments are not just about competitiveness, but about maintaining our quality of life. As Germany currently shows, good economic numbers are a necessary, but far from sufficient, precondition of strong investment activity. On the one hand, we expect economic output to rise by an annual average of 1.8% in real terms in both 2015 and 2016. At the same time, despite a recent upward trend, public-sector investment–which often helps to pave the way for private-sector investment–is still growing relatively slowly. There is also scope for more dynamism in many key areas of private-sector investment. 

©Whitehouse.gov

In 2014, the US economy added more jobs than in any year since the 1990s. In fact, this longest streak of job growth on record has persisted into 2015. Inflation-adjusted wages are up by 1.4% annually over the last two years, more than twice the pace of the last recovery. But this is still not enough to make up for decades of subpar gains for middle-class families–a challenge shared by many other OECD economies. President Obama’s approach to what he has termed “middle-class economics” is about remedying this decades-long challenge for the future. 

©Government of the Netherlands

The Netherlands last chaired the OECD Ministerial Council Meeting in 1991, a year when advanced economies accounted for nearly two thirds of global GDP and almost two billion people were living in extreme poverty. The world looks very different today. Emerging markets now account for more than half of global GDP and the number of people living in extreme poverty is down to one billion. This Millennium Development Goal has been reached, and that is good news. There is still a formidable challenge ahead, however, in the areas of poverty reduction, sustainability and inclusivity.

©Rights reserved

For the past decade or so, there has been a lot of debate in policy circles on how to get governments and the private sector to work together more collaboratively in order to catalyse the transition to green growth. The good news is that in that time many factors have come together to make this more of a reality. Governments, including in developing countries, are increasingly committed to a low-carbon future; there is, in theory, adequate capital available to finance the transition; and there has been a recent boom in the technology needed to make green growth more affordable and feasible. 

©Romeo Gacad/AFP Photo

For many years one of the predominant conventional wisdoms in both business and policymaking circles was that cutting greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions necessitates a sacrifice in economic growth. We now know, through the experiences of both developed and developing countries, that economic growth can complement environmental conservation and transitioning to a low-carbon economy can go hand-in-hand with increased access to economic opportunity and higher levels of well-being. 

©Vandana Shiva

The year 2015 is the International Year of Soils. It is also the year the UN Millennium Development Goals launched in 2000 expire, and are to be replaced by Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The 17 goals and their 169 targets cover a vast range of issues, but care for the soil is the foundation of sustainability and is central to practically every SDG. 

©Rights reserved

In January of this year I visited the Mexican state of Tabasco–a state crossed by rivers and facing the Gulf of Mexico. The state’s population has doubled over the past 30 years and its economy relies heavily on oil and natural gas resources. It has its challenges as well: unemployment, poverty and a lack of resources. 

©Oxfam

According to shocking new research by Oxfam, the world’s richest 1% will, on current trends, own more than half the world’s wealth by 2016.

©Stéphane Lavoué

As the world continues to undergo a process of profound transformation, the time has come for us to rethink our traditional growth models. The challenge for both society and the business community is one and the same: can we identify new resources to foster growth that is more harmonious and more focused on the needs of human beings? As chief executive officer of Sodexo, I have every reason to believe we can. For the past 50 years our group has grown by placing people at the very core of our business model, of our organisation, and of the relationships we have with the community. 

©Sarah Turton

Years of global recession, stagnation and slow uncertain recovery prove we do not yet have the right economic model to secure the sustained, strong growth that will be vital to social and economic progress in the years ahead. 

©Rights reserved

Gender inequality is one of the most primitive and oldest forms of inequality. Sadly, it is still very much a reality in most parts of the world. In many countries women do not have equal access to education, healthcare, safety, work or political decision-making.

The 30% Club is a group of company chairmen, chairwomen and CEOs committed to achieving better gender balance at all levels of their organisations through voluntary actions.

©Korean government

Of the abundant resources given to mankind, what is the most underused resource of our time? Without a doubt, women! 

Challenging free trade orthodoxy is a heavy lift in our political culture; anything that has been in place for that long takes on an air of inevitability. But, critical as these shifts are, they are not enough to lower emissions in time. To do that, we will need to confront a logic even more entrenched than free trade—the logic of indiscriminate economic growth. This idea has understandably inspired a good deal of resistance among more liberal climate watchers, who insist that the task is merely to paint our current growth-based economic model green, so it's worth examining the numbers behind the claim. 

His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales ©John Paul/Australian Women's Weekly

The international discussions under way in the course of this vital year–including July’s Finance for Development Meeting in Addis Ababa, the agreement of a new set of universal Sustainable Development Goals at the UN in September and the climate change summit in Paris at the end of 2015–represent a remarkable and unprecedented opportunity to establish what might be called a “Magna Carta for the earth” for our times.

Financial crises do more than impose huge costs: they have bigger and more insidious effects. We face big challenges in maintaining the supply of global public goods as the world integrates. But these challenges will not be managed successfully if we do not first overcome the legacy of the crisis. Moreover, all this must be done at a time of transition in global power and responsibility from a world dominated by Western powers to one in which new powers have arisen.

Stakeholder in Virunga National Park ©Riccardo Gangale/AFP

Is it possible for 9 billion people to live on this planet and enjoy a good standard of living? And on such a planet, is it possible for economies to grow, businesses to profit, and communities to prosper without undermining the natural systems that support all life? And without destroying some of the planet’s last great wildernesses? At WWF, we believe the answer to these questions is simple: yes. We believe this even though our own Living Planet Report shows so clearly just how humanity’s use of resources is affecting our planet. It does not make for cheerful reading. Since 1970, populations of species have declined by around half. Each year, we consume 50% more resources than the planet can replenish. 

©Daniel Leclair/Reuters

"Israel’s successes arise from the continuous need for and support of innovative methods, technologies, holistic water resource management and strategies for sustainably providing for the nation’s water needs."

It’s easy to dream about holidays in far-off exotic islands, especially with current global petrol prices. A sustained low oil price has allowed many of us to put away a little more of that paycheck and think seriously about buying an iWatch or taking that much-deserved break.

"Turkish banks have had no difficulty accessing foreign wholesale funding."

©REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

Let’s face it: the bulk of small and medium-sized entreprises (SMEs) are still financed mainly by bank credit. However, as bank finance is harder to come by in the current post-crisis environment, fostering non-bank financing alternatives may help closing an SME financing gap. The OECD has been looking into such issues, using input from the private sector via its financial roundtables.

A Better Than Cash Alliance supporter: Bill Gates ©Bernd Von Jutrczenka / DPA Picture-Alliance/AFP

Access to financing can contribute to inclusive social and economic development. How might digital transactions help? Here’s how.

©BlaBlaCar

Thanks to smart online and phone technologies, dynamic new business platforms that are altering the parametres in property, transport and other service-driven markets are fast emerging.

Companies such as Airbnb (helping you to rent or let out a room) and TaskRabbit (helping you pack boxes, walk the dog and other personal chores) have hit the headlines not just for their new business models, but their disruptive effects on established markets and services. Proponents say this “sharing” economy creates more choice and control for customers, while critics say it unfairly undermines competition.

Policymakers are now taking a closer look at how fair the sharing economy really is and to see if any rules need to be rewritten.

We asked the founder of France’s BlaBlaCar, Frederic Mazzella, how his ride-sharing company has evolved to become a prime example of the sharing economy.

.....................................

Compared to their parents, German baby-boomers are substantially more unequal in terms of long-term earnings, are subject to a much stronger pay uncertainty, and are considerably more likely to experience long spells of unemployment.

Economic data

GDP growth: +0.7% Q2 2017
Consumer price inflation: 2.2% Aug 2017 annual
Trade: +1.4% exp, +1.7% imp, Q2 2017
Unemployment: 5.8% Aug 2017
Last update: 20 Oct 2017

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

  • The annual OECD Eurasia Week takes place in Almaty, Kazakhstan 23-25 October. Writing in The Astana Times, OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría urges Eurasia countries to stay the course on openness and international integration, which has brought prosperity but also disillusionment, notably regarding inequality. The OECD is working with this key region, and Mr Gurría urges Eurasia to focus on human capital and innovation to enhance productivity and people’s well-being. Read more.
  • When someone asks me to describe an ideal girl, in my head, she is a person who is physically and mentally independent, brave to speak her mind, treated with respect just like she treats others, and inspiring to herself and others. But I know that the reality is still so much different. By Alda, 18, on International Day of the Girl. 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.
  • Read some of the insightful remarks made at OECD Forum 2017, held on 6-7 June. OECD Forum kick-started events with a focus on inclusive growth, digitalisation, and trust, under the overall theme of Bridging Divides.
  • 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.
  • How do the largest community of British expats living in Spain feel about Brexit? Britons living in Orihuela Costa, Alicante give their views.
  • Brexit is taking up Europe's energy and focus, according to OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría. Watch video.
  • OECD Chief Economist Catherine Mann and former Bank of England Governor Mervyn King discuss the economic merits of a US border adjustment tax and the outlook for US economic growth.
  • Africa's cities at the forefront of progress: Africa is urbanising at a historically rapid pace coupled with an unprecedented demographic boom. By 2050, about 56% of Africans are expected to live in cities. This poses major policy challenges, but make no mistake: Africa’s cities and towns are engines of progress that, if harnessed correctly, can fuel the entire continent’s sustainable development.
  • OECD Observer i-Sheet Series: OECD Observer i-Sheets are smart contents pages on major issues and events. Use them to find current or recent articles, video, books and working papers. To browse on paper and read on line, or simply download.
  • How sustainable is the ocean as a source of economic development? The Ocean Economy in 2030 examines the risks and uncertainties surrounding the future development of ocean industries, the innovations required in science and technology to support their progress, their potential contribution to green growth and some of the implications for ocean management.
  • 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.
  • They are green and local --It’s a new generation of entrepreneurs in Kenya with big dreams of sustainable energy and the drive to see their innovative technologies throughout Africa. blogs.worldbank.org
  • 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 .

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 2017