The Friday fish

A weekly catch from behind the headlines on
OECD Observer

No 2: Innovation; Trade and investment; Stopping bank default; Migration and gender; Fish farming 


Hurricane Sandy is the latest in a series of natural disasters which have destroyed people's lives. Can satellite technology help to predict these threats? A symposium at the OECD in mid-October tried to answer this question. Here’s the agenda.

For papers, contact 

Meanwhile, business spending on research and development (R&D) has been hit hard by the economic crisis, with nearly all OECD countries seeing a fall in investment which could impact innovation and long-term growth, according to this new report.

Not that measuring innovation is easy to do. People count patents, for instance, or scientific collaboration. It is a broad and vital subject. If you wish to understand innovation is measured and is changing, a new book called Measuring Innovation: A New Perspective will help you.

Trade and investment

The world business environment darkened further with the news that global flows of foreign direct investment (FDI) shrank by 10% in Q2 compared with the previous quarter and by 14% compared with a year earlier. But there were bright spots, which you can read about here.

When economic prospects dim and businesses start to hurt, a common reflex is for countries to turn to politically expedient protectionist measures. But such measures backfire on everyone by closing off channels to trade and investment that recovery needs, and destroying the companies and jobs the measures intend to safeguard. They also lead to tit-for-tat reactions and a prickly international atmosphere of distrust. This OECD-WTO-UNCTAD report therefore calls on G20 governments to step up their efforts to resist protectionism and to strengthen multilateral co-operation instead.

Stopping bank default

The bank crisis that hurt our economies was not a surprise to everyone. Some economists had warned about monetary policy in a context of liberalised financial markets leading to excesses, others about pressures on financial firms to use high-risk but illiquid products that would cause problems in the event of a crisis. Still, how can we know if a bank, however large, is near a precipice? This technical new study models the distance-to-default (DTD) of a large sample of banks, in a bid to improve predictability and regulation. More...

Remember the Asian financial crisis of the late 1990s? Though Asia today is in corporate governance terms almost unrecognisable from the Asia of 1997, efforts continue to reach a new higher level of ownership, shareholders and transparency, as this document explains.

One of the age-old debates among economists is how to ensure that marketplaces are not skewed in favour of public enterprises and that private firms have a real competitive chance of winning the likes of state contracts. Enter the notion of competitive neutrality, and this recent book explains how to achieve it in practice. More...

Migration and gender

Last week we highlighted a report on immigration, skills and productivity in Spain. But did you know that migrants make up roughly 3% of the world's population? That's over 200 million people who possess real and substantial resources in terms of skills and finances, meaning a boon for development and growth everywhere. What are the best policies to benefit most from immigration? This report from the OECD and French Foreign Affairs Ministry attempts some answers.

And to complete the picture, try this exploration of emigrants and their diasporas, with data culled from 140 countries, looking at the likes of family sizes, education, jobs, gender issues and more. An impressive and very user-friendly resource for anyone interested in migration, whether in studies or policymaking. More...

See also our just-updated immigration database.

Argentina headed the rankings in the 2012 Social Institutions and Gender Index, from the OECD Development Centre, a leading barometer for measuring discrimination against women in developing countries. In 2009 it stood at 5th. Latin American and Caribbean shows the lowest level of overall discrimination against women, sub-Saharan Africa the highest. China ranks 43 out of the 86 country sample. You can check this year's rankings, interactive map and index here

Fish farming

And last but not least, fish: with some 30% of global fisheries overexploited or depleted, could aquaculture be a solution? More...

The Friday fish #2 ©Rory Clarke, OECD Observer, 2 November 2012 

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