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Brazil needs to invest heavily in basic infrastructure to support its expanding economy. Progress is being made, but it is a daunting task. 

©REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker

Anyone wishing to gauge Brazil’s status as one of the world’s most lucrative emerging markets should look at the growth of its financial sector. 

©Reuters

Brazil has emerged as a global economic player and expectations are rising of further success ahead. But there are several tests to pass along the way. 

Increasing citizens’ input to policymaking is one of the goals of the new indicators of well-being developed to make up for the inadequacies of GDP as an indicator. Unfortunately the latter leaves out many factors which clearly play a fundamental role in all of our daily lives, ranging from health to the quality of the environment, education, housing or even social ties and security. It is therefore crucial that the public at large understand how the new indicators designed to supplement GDP are constructed and interpreted, and if possible the public should be fully involved in the process. 

Tackling inequality

The average income of the richest 10% of the population is about nine times that of the poorest 10%, up from seven times what it was 25 years ago. Even in more egalitarian countries, such as Germany and Sweden, the earnings of the richest are over six times higher than those of the poorest, compared with just over three in 1985. Inequality has narrowed in countries like Chile and Mexico, though the income gap between rich and poor is still 27 to 1, and in Brazil, which as this edition shows has implemented impressive programmes against poverty and inequality, the gap stands at 50 to 1. Clearly, the benefits of economic growth have not trickled down or been fairly distributed. 

Why does this matter to policy makers? Inequality is a critical social and economic challenge. Widening disparities weaken the structures that hold our societies together and threaten our ability to move forward. This effect has become even more apparent with the current prolonged crisis, which has been felt by a wide range of income groups throughout the OECD area. 

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How can the euro crisis unfold? For David McWilliams, Irish economist and best-selling author, the answer is probably a two-speed arrangement between core and periphery. 

©Luke MacGregor/Reuters

The corporate world is far from making the most out of gender diversity in the workplace. But some businesses are finding innovative ways to change this. 

©Yuriko Nakano/Reuters

The global economy took a sharp turn for the worse following the collapse of Lehman Brothers in September 2008, and today it is increasingly apparent that the crisis has entered its second round. This time we are facing a combination of low growth and trouble in the financial sector, just as governments find themselves running out of economic policy options. 

John Evans © OECD

Perhaps one of the biggest weaknesses in traditional economic thinking is the belief that GDP per capita is the only relevant benchmark of economic performance.
Yet, there is compelling evidence to show that increases in GDP have little impact on happiness or life chances. 

A. Krueger ©L.Downing/Reuters

As the US emerges from the deepest recession since the Great Depression, it is critical to take steps that will lead not only to recovery, but also to more robust economic growth with rising employment and broadly shared income gains. 

Yukon Huang

Apprehensions about China’s unbalanced growth process concern everybody, but its causes are often misunderstood.
What can the Chinese leadership do to rebalance investment and consumption? 

Pier Carlo Padoan ©OECD

The history of economic policymaking has been marked by a succession of “paradigms” defining the goals of economic policy and the instruments used to attain them.
OECD Chief Economist Pier Carlo Padoan looks at where we go from here.

"A critical moment" is how Chief Economist Pier Carlo Padoan described the current economic situation as he issued the latest OECD Economic Outlook today Monday. Policy continues to be behind the curve in the euro area and the US, he said. But the situation can be turned around for the better, he insisted, saying that better policies could stop prospects from worsening.  The new OECD Economic Outlook presents upside and downside scenarios, and offers advice on the way forward, both for the wider global economy, and for individual OECD member and partner countries.

The entire collection of OECD‘s country economic surveys has now been made accessible online at the OECD i-Library. Published regularly since the creation of the OECD in 1961, and to mark the Organisation’s 50th anniversary, this online archive offers a unique historical perspective of the economic changes OECD countries have undergone since 1961. It is an invaluable resource for anyone tracing their efforts to rebuild their economies after World War II, addressing the oil crisis in the 1970s, the dot.com revolution and bubble, and the economic, educational and environmental challenges of the 21st century.

Whether or not you believe they have been reformed enough, few institutions have received as much attention during the current economic crisis as banks.

But how much money do they really control and how can their behaviour affect our economies so much?

Despite two decades of outsourcing and globalisation, the US remains the world’s largest manufacturer in 2009. However, its share of world value-added in manufacturing declined from around 22.7% of the total in 1990 to less than 20% in 2009. China’s share rose from a minute 2.7% to 17.5% over the same period, taking over Japan, hitherto the world’s second largest manufacture, whose share dropped from 17.7% to 11.4% over the two decades.

E. Ostrom ©C. Meyer/Indiana University

Nobel laureate for Economics, Elinor Ostrom, spoke at the OECD in June. At a time when new models are needed, could her ideas on common resources and governance offer guidance?

OECD economies are in the doldrums, but the trend in global mergers and acquisitions has rarely been more buoyant. International M&A investment in 2011 reached $822 billion as at 21 October. If this pace can be sustained, international M&A will top $100 billion by the end of the year, a 32% increase over 2010 (see chart).


Financial market failures were a major cause of the economic crisis, but property markets, particularly for housing, have had a leading part to play too. From the subprime debacle in the US to the bursting of unprecedented real estate bubbles in Ireland, Spain and Greece, among others, the overheating and collapse of property markets not only hurt savings and investments, but was felt throughout entire economies, affecting construction, employment, lending, spending and more.

“Growth is turning out to be much slower than we thought three months ago,"  OECD Chief Economist Pier Carlo Padoan said when issuing his organisation's forecast update for major global economies on 8 September. 

Migration into OECD countries fell by about 7% in 2009 to 4.3 million people, down from just over 4.5 million in 2008. Recent national data suggest migration numbers fell further in 2010, the 2011 International Migration Outlook says.

Food prices have increased over the year to January 2011 in many of the world’s economies. Moreover, those increases, which accelerated from mid-2010, reversed the downward trend in food prices of 2009 and the first half of 2010, OECD-FAO Agriculture Outlook 2011-2020 says. Threequarters of the OECD countries recorded retail food price increases of 5% or less, while price increases exceeded that in half a dozen or so countries. Two OECD countries, Korea and Estonia, experienced increases of over 10%. Brazil, China, Indonesia and Russia all had double-digit rates of food infl ation during the year to January 2011, well up on the previous year. In South Africa, food prices increased by a moderate 3.3%, though this represented a doubling from the rate of the previous year. Food price inflation also accelerated in the second half of 2010 in several countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Assets you cannot touch lie behind successful innovations. What are they and how can policy make a difference?

Israel is a popular holiday destination, thanks to cultural and historical, but also leisure, attractions. But there are challenges to overcome.

In many respects Israel’s short but dramatic history has created a combination of economic, social, demographic and political circumstances without close parallel with any other OECD member country. Some of these characteristics are outlined here, and are explored in more depth in the OECD’s first Economic Survey of Israel, published in 2010.

The OECD 50th Anniversary Week 2011 was a momentous and inspirational occasion. Against the background of a fragile recovery of the world economy, 21 heads of state and government and deputy prime ministers, 86 ministers and state secretaries, and over 2,000 participants from business, labour and civil society gathered to identify and discuss the policies needed to achieve a more inclusive and greener path to economic growth and job creation.

How can policy help expand economic opportunities without overly straining natural resources or destroying the planet? And how can we relieve intensifying environmental pressures that currently threaten our welfare? The OECD Green Growth Strategy points a way forward.

Uncertainty about the future, eagerness to devise new ways of managing our economies, and to contribute to the debate on how to make better policies for better lives: these were just some of the discernable public moods at the OECD Forum, held on 24-25 May.

Economic data

GDP growth: +0.6% Q4 2017 year-on-year
Consumer price inflation: 2.3% Mar 2018 annual
Trade: +2.7% exp, +3.0% imp, Q4 2017
Unemployment: 5.4% Mar 2018
Last update: 15 May 2018

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  • 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 .
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