OECD Observer: How encouraged or worried are you about the current global economic situation?
John Evans: The trends are very worrying. OECD and IMF growth forecasts have now been revised downwards six times since 2010. Stalled or declining global growth, rising unemployment, increasing income inequality, insufficient progress on financial regulation, the erosion of tax bases and unabated climate change constitute central global challenges faced by the G20 leaders’ meeting in Saint Petersburg. The deficiency in global demand is reinforced by a lack of confidence when almost 60% of people claim that their income has not kept pace with the cost of living in the last two years. This is eroding trust when 50% of working families have been directly impacted by the loss of jobs or a reduction in working hours.
Have G20 governments addressed the causes of the crisis from a social point of view?
The G20 have not done enough to address the causes of the crisis. Instead of strengthening labour institutions and social protection, many G20 governments panicked in the face of financial markets and chose austerity measures that only deepen the crisis and cause recession. As a result, the G20 has lost ground and trust in its ability to co-ordinate the policies necessary to pull economies out of the crisis, as commitments appear not to be acted on. People feel abandoned by their governments, with 80% of people indicating that their government has failed to tackle unemployment, and only 13% of people feeling that their government is acting in the interests of working people.
What advice would you give?
Leaders have the opportunity at the Saint Petersburg G20 Summit, building on the July labour and finance ministers’ joint conclusions, to restore the public’s faith in global economic policy co-ordination. The G20 should take co-ordinated action to kick start recovery towards job-centred, inclusive, green and sustainable long-term growth. G20 governments have to live up to past summit commitments and take action to support domestic demand by investing in education, innovation and infrastructure. Measures have to reduce income inequality and create quality jobs.
ITUC Global Poll, 2013, available at:
“The first ever G20 Finance and Labour Ministers’ Meeting was held in Moscow”, G20 News and Press Releases, July 19, 2013, available at: www.en.g20russia.ru/ news/20130719/781660747.html
See also www.tuac.org
© OECD Observer No 295 Q2 2013