For all the signs of improving labour market conditions in many OECD countries, there is still a substantial way to go to close the jobs gap caused by the Great Recession of 2008-09. Unemployment will continue to fall in most countries, but by the end of 2017, it will still be well above pre-crisis levels in a number of them. 

He’s lifting the lid ©REUTERS/Paul Darrow

Achieving the transition to a low-carbon economy to meet the 2ºC target requires shifting investment away from carbon-intensive options and towards low-carbon, climate-resilient infrastructure assets and technology. Over US$90 trillion will be needed in the next 15 years to meet global infrastructure needs across transport, energy and water systems, irrespective of climate change, according to the Global Commission on Climate and the Economy. But as the commission estimates, making these infrastructure investments “low-carbon” will impose additional costs of only 4.5% relative to business-as-usual, with benefits such as reduced local air pollution, improved energy security and lower traffic congestion. 

©Orelie Grimaldi

Over the last century, resource extraction from non-renewable stocks has grown while extraction from renewable stocks has declined, reflecting the shift in the global economy base from agriculture to industry. 

©TUAC

A structural shift to a low-carbon economy will entail gains in jobs, but also losses, and the first jobs to be lost are not those that you think. A just energy transition will be needed, but how? 

©Reuters/Stringer

The human economy is a physical system embedded in society, which itself is embedded in a finite global ecosystem. The primary goal of the economy should be to meet basic human and social needs, now and in the future, without degrading the global ecosystem services upon which all life depends. How can this be done?

Click to enlarge. By StiK, especially for the OECD Observer

Click to enlarge. By StiK, especially for the OECD Observer

Economic recovery is holding up in the world’s advanced economies, but the outlook is unsettled due to stalling world trade and worsening financial markets particularly in major emerging economies, according to the OECD’s latest briefing on the economic outlook issued 16 September.

African Economic Outlook 2015/OECD

The financial landscape has changed considerably in Africa since 2000. Private external flows in the form of investment and remittances now drive growth in external finance, according to the African Economic Outlook 2015. Foreign investments are expected to reach US$73.5 billion in 2015, underpinned by increasing greenfield investment from China, India and South Africa.

OECD

A warming planet and a flat world economy have propelled the issue of investment in clean energy to the top of the policy agenda. The question has become all the more crucial in view of the landmark global summit on climate change to be held in Paris in December 2015. 

OECD

Since democracy was restored in 1999, Nigeria has engaged in ambitious reforms towards greater market liberalisation and economic openness. By far the most populous country of the continent–with more than 170 million people Nigeria is home to 18% of Africa’s population–it now claims to be the largest
economy in Africa, with an estimated nominal GDP of US$510 billion. Its GDP growth has never been below 5% since 2003, and since 2009, it has become the preferred destination for foreign direct investment (FDI) in Africa, ahead of South Africa.

Aly Song/Reuters

Investment has been hit hard by the crisis, yet is vital for a sustainable recovery and future well-being. In 2008-14 private investment ran at some 25% below pre-crisis forecasts. From infrastructure and green energy to improving education and health care, all countries depend on investment in physical and human capital.

David Rooney/OECD Observer

Meeting budgetary targets is hard enough in any country, but for developing countries struggling to lift their economies to a higher stage of development, it can seem a near impossible task. Nevertheless, governments and local authorities everywhere in the world have a duty to provide proper public and social services for their citizens, and infrastructure that will attract investors. Tax revenues are therefore vital for meeting public demands as well as development aspirations. As a general rule of thumb, a stable and predictable budgetary framework helps foster growth and, in the longer term, reduces dependence on foreign financing, be it public or private. Taxation is a bedrock of “good government” and a driving force for wider reforms. However, devising the right framework and approach to tax is not easy, from getting the tax levels right to ensuring skills are in place to devise and implement them.

©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. 

©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?

©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. 

Innovation has always been a foundation of our economies. From the invention of the wheel to the Industrial Revolution, via air transport, the internet and medicines, innovation leads to change, progress, and hope. In today’s world, which is still reeling from the crisis and looking for new, stronger, more inclusive and sustainable ways forward, policies for fostering innovation are more relevant than ever.

©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. 

The world is still repairing the damage done to employment prospects and social equality by the crisis. Governments are trying to create not just more jobs, but better jobs. A new OECD framework helps them to define what job quality means and to measure whether their policies are succeeding. 

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. 

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.

What if economics were within everyone’s grasp? Although you may feel that discussing Greece’s debt sustainability or Europe’s ageing problem is beyond your capabilities, Cambridge scholar Ha-Joon Chang strives to prove that you actually can.

In October 2014 we wrote that deflationary risks had risen in the euro area and warned of the dangers deflation poses for the economy. Where do we stand now? Has deflation been avoided or has it started to bite? 

OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría meets with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and finance minister Yanis Varoufakis to discuss reform cooperation program.

"There is no such thing as a debt crisis: The Euro Crisis, Asia's Woes and America's Dilemma in a Global Context". This was the title of a presentation given by economist Yanis Varoufakis at the OECD in March 2013, nearly two years before he became Greece's finance minister. Part of The Coffees of the Secretary-General series, you can read the complete transcript of Mr Varoufakis's presentation below.

Click to enlarge

The GDP growth story over the past year or two has been one of diverging trends, with relative buoyancy returning to economies such as Sweden, the UK and the US, but with the euro area still looking off colour. How have the crisis and subsequent economic growth patterns affected the actual size of each country’s economy compared to 2007? Have OECD countries recovered their pre-crisis levels of GDP? 

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

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