Globalisation has always been a process of far-reaching and often unexpected change, as well as geographical shifts in power, and this is reflected in the rise and fall of great cities. What lessons can we draw for the future?

©AFP/Eric Piermont

World trade is changing, and so too must the way policymakers approach it, says Pascal Lamy. We asked him to explain. 

©Rick Winning RTW/REUTERS

Since the 2008 financial crisis, strains in the financial sector and in government balance sheets mean there is less and less supply of long-term capital. This has profound implications for growth and financial stability. Policymakers should take action. 

The economic ills of the crisis have rightly prompted public reevaluation of government spending habits and revenue collection on both sides of the Atlantic. While congressional super committees and EU delegations hash out plans to foot massive debt bills, a combination of civil society groups, the Occupy movement, and simple common sense have brought long-deserved attention to certain tax loopholes and corporate practices that cost governments billions of dollars. 

Global competition and the global financial crisis have put additional pressures on education programmes around the world. Radically new approaches to learning are now needed.

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Life skills and a passion for learning are the key to the global knowledge economy. Thriving in this environment demands several qualities. 

Policymakers need solutions to help their economies move forward in today’s world. The OECD Skills Strategy, launched at the 2012 Ministerial Council Meeting in May, may prove fundamental. Here’s why. 

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Regrettably, gender discrimination is still a problem in our societies and our economies. In fact, “problem” is far too weak a word. It is more accurate to speak of an unacceptable injustice. Women have fewer opportunities in terms of education, employment and entrepreneurship and are, on average, less well paid for their work. 

Globalisation and the emergence of interlinked yet diverse civil society groups pose a serious challenge to established governance frameworks. Change appears to be the only option. 

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A crisis may focus minds, but it often takes more than that to believe that change is possible. Citizens worldwide have made just that leap of faith. In OECD member countries, a grassroots movement has manifested itself in the overnight occupation of public space and the exercise of direct democracy on the model of what happened in city squares across Spain just over a year ago. After those demonstrations reached Wall Street, Occupy went global and I have been fortunate enough to be involved with the movement as it developed in London.

The OECD’s CleanGovBiz Initiative helps governments fight corruption, while working with civil society and the private sector to promote integrity.

The middle class has long been the backbone of prosperity and economic stability in developed countries. But the crisis is exert increasing pressure on this pillar of society. Does the middle class need saving?

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Expect the issue of solidarity between generations to become a major policy challenge in the years ahead, and not just in OECD countries. Here’s why. 

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The search for measures of progress that might replace GDP is a timely and necessary one, but only a single metric will do the trick. 

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The OECD Better Life Initiative can make a difference to policies, and to people’s lives too, though that also depends on participation. 

©REUTERS/Carlos Barria

Was a major lapse of consumer protection at the heart of the subprime crisis? For consumer advocate Ira Rheingold, only better financial regulation and consumer protection will prevent future meltdowns. 

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When it comes to fixing the economy, could the collective efforts of business and other interested parties be a better solution than passing new laws?

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Poverty rates are usually a measure of personal income. But how can public services affect relative poverty, that is, when the monetary value of public services, known as “extended income” is brought into the equation? 

“Education and skills” is the theme of the 2012 OECD youth video competition. It was launched on 14 December at the Youth Employment conference. Open to youth ages 18 to 25, the challenge is to produce a video of no more than three minutes on the theme of education and skills, and the prize is a trip to Paris to attend the OECD Forum on 22-24 May. 

“Wise men don’t need advice. Fools won’t take it,” said Benjamin Franklin. Yet, from Machiavelli through Richelieu to Kissinger, people in power have always relied on good advice from people they trust. But where should the line be drawn (rather than blurred) between influence and intrigue, cost and benefit? 

Inventors, entrepreneurs and start-ups offer a glimmer of hope in a time of low growth and austerity, with governments and economists alike shifting their attention towards innovation as a way out of a protracted crisis. Government-supported policies and programmes to support business innovation have been around for decades, but how successful are they and what lessons can be drawn for these more austere times? 

Thomas Edison’s assertion that “genius is 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration” is particularly pertinent to the solar energy sector. This remarkable technology could hold answers to so many of the world’s energy challenges, but only at the cost of hard effort and investment. Solar Energy Perspectives, the first in-depth study dedicated to solar technology from the International Energy Agency (IEA), a sister organisation of the OECD, gives a comprehensive analysis of solar energy’s potential as well as the policies required to increase its capacity in the coming decades. 

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Inequality is usually thought of in terms of income or wealth, but it might make even more sense to think of it in terms of how satisfied people are with their lives. A recent study, How’s Life?, attempts to shed light on people’s experience and the variation in life satisfaction within countries. 

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As governments around the world attempt to bring deficits under control and debt to manageable levels, just where to find the savings is a tricky question. Governments face a delicate balancing act as they try to achieve real fiscal discipline without mortally wounding public services, often in precarious political circumstances. 

It is crucial for countries competing in an advanced economy to have a skilled workforce. But with labour markets changing so fast, how can workers keep up? The OECD Skills Strategy, due to be launched in May together with a comprehensive new survey of adult competencies, will help provide answers. 

Mobile phones and e-books are already essential school supplies on many university campuses. But they’re just slide rules compared to what education tools might look like in a few years. 

©Reuters

There has always been some debate about whether higher education is really something that everyone should be encouraged to pursue. If there aren’t enough jobs requiring university-level degrees to go around, why spend the time and money–public or private–to obtain a degree? 

The long road towards gender equality has arrived at greater educational attainment, higher female labour force participation, and advances in politics and business, but we haven’t reached the end yet. 

Since 2008, unemployment in the OECD area has leapt from 6.1% to 8.2% in 2011. Governments searching for ways to increase employment must at the same time deal with the large budget deficits that are also a legacy of the crisis. Tax reform can play a role in this balancing act. 

Economic data

GDP growth: +0.6% Q2 2018 year-on-year
Consumer price inflation: 2.9% Aug 2018 annual
Trade: +2.7% exp, +3.0% imp, Q4 2017
Unemployment: 5.3% Aug 2018
Last update: 10 Oct 2018

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Don't miss

  • 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.

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