Plus ça change…

OECD Observer

Highlights from the first edition of the OECD Observer, November 1962

Naturally, the first editorial was devoted to the new magazine: “The OECD Observer” by Thorkil Kristensen, secretary-general of OECD. It would be distributed “especially to people who are most directly concerned with the development of society, i.e. members of governments, members of parliaments, labour and management leaders, leaders of industrial and agricultural organisations, trade organisations, bankers, educational institutions, scientists and the press”.

“Nobody has time enough to read all these (OECD) publications, and nobody needs to know everything about every specialised subject, but there are people who do feel a need…to follow the work in a more general way.”

The magazine’s respect for confidentiality in the organisation was not without condition: “The certainty that nothing will be published on these (political) deliberations is the fundamental basis for obtaining significant results….However, the study work crystallises in rich material, the value of which would be multiplied if it were more widely known”.

In “What Makes an Economy Grow? The Role of Research and Education”, Ingvar Svennilson, economics professor, Stockholm University, notes that “all OECD member countries are faced with a grave shortage of teachers, particularly in scientific and technical subjects”. One feature that has somewhat changed concerns the photo, which shows French students at a lecture in the Sorbonne – they are all men.

Opening up the film and movie market to more competition is the theme of another article, showing that the “cultural exception” was alive and well in 1962. The article points out that the OECD “provides a forum in which members – together with a committee of film experts – could evaluate each other’s restrictions”.

The OECD’s 2002 SME Outlook has just come out (see link below); the 1962 edition wondered if “Among the business giants can small industries survive?” The piece points out that “General Motors utilise 26,000 suppliers in the United States, 16,000 of them employing fewer than a hundred workers.” It describes the problems small businesses have in getting hold of information as “one of the most striking paradoxes of our age: at the same time that the means of imparting information are being vastly improved and extended, it has become increasingly difficult to get that information into the hands of those who need it most.”

In “The Social Consequence of Office Automation”, a survey found that “as automation increasingly simplifies office work, the staff becomes more and more divided between a relatively small élite in charge of the computers and the mass of employees doing routine work. At the same time, relations between the management and office workers tend to become similar to the relations between management and manual workers…in addition, the desire to use an expensive machine to full capacity induces management to introduce shift work for office workers”.

And in a special focus on aid, the Development Assistance Committee warns that while tying aid to commercial deals with a donor country may at times be necessary, “it has numerous disadvantages for the recipient countries.”

40 years ago

The Chinese Zodiac horoscope for 2002 says: For those born in 1962 (Year of the Tiger), everything will run smoothly, and you may achieve outstanding results. But avoid long working hours.”

The Cold War: This was the year of the Cuban crisis and the Bay of Pigs. The first US nuclear-powered surface ship, N.S. Savannah, was put to sea. And US pilot Francis Gary Powers, shot down over Russia in a U-2 spy plane in May 1960, came home, exchanged for Soviet spy Rudolf Abel. The Cold War was good box office too – this was that year that fictional spy hero James Bond made his first appearance in Dr. No with the inimitable Sean Connery as 007.

French connection: An assassination attempt against French president Charles de Gaulle failed though not several box office thrillers the attempt gave rise to at the time). Forty years on, a man took a pot-shot at current president Jacques Chirac during the 2002 Bastille Day parade.

It was not all doom and gloom. The end of the Algerian war was declared on 19 March 1962.

Founded: Organisations founded in 1962 include the Peace Corps, the Basque Separatist Movement ETA, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and the World Wrestling Federation.

The World Food Programme, due to go into operation in 1963 was up running before it could walk, providing food aid in the wake of an earthquake in Iran, a hurricane in Thailand, not to mention five million refugees in newly independent Algeria. Originally planned as a three-year experimental programme, it is still in operation.

Independence: Jamaica, Burundi, Uganda, Western Samoa, Trinidad and Tobago, Algeria

Lifestyle landmarks: First Wal-Mart (US chain superstore) opens; YSL haute couture brand was founded in 1962 by Yves Saint Laurent, who retired in 2002. Seattle hosted a World’s Fair and unveiled the Space Needle.

Technological changes: Satellite TV was made possible by the launch of Telstar I, the world’s first communications satellite, from Cape Canaveral, Florida on July 10. It was designed by Bell Labs, which is now the R&D division of Lucent Technologies. Anglo-French agreed to develop the supersonic passenger airliner Concorde. AT&T introduces the Bell 103, the first commercially available modem for transmitting data over phone lines (at 300 baud).

Sport: Sonny Liston became world heavyweight boxing champion, knocking out Floyd Patterson ….. and Evander Holyfield was born. Brazil won their second soccer World Cup. Galatasaray won the Turkish football league…again.

Cinema: Lawrence of Arabia starring Peter O’Toole won the Oscar for best picture; Japan’s Ozu, to some, one of the greatest artists of the 20th century, made his last film, Autumn Afternoon.

Pop: The Beatles scored their first No.1 single in the UK in October with “Love Me Do” while the US preferred Elvis Presley’s “Return to Sender”.

Births: Entertainment/sport headliners born in 1962 include Jodie Foster, Demi Moore, Jon Bon Jovi, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Rosie O’Donnell, MC Hammer, Pam Shriver, Tom Cruise, Ralph Fiennes.

Deaths: Marilyn Monroe, William Faulkner, Eleanor Roosevelt and Herman Hesse. Adolf Eichmann was hanged.

And finally, a thousand years ago, the massacre of Saint Brice on 13 November 1002 led to the Danish invasion of England.

©OECD Observer No 235, December 2002

Economic data

GDP growth: -9.8% Q2/Q1 2020 2020
Consumer price inflation: 1.3% Sep 2020 annual
Trade (G20): -17.7% exp, -16.7% imp, Q2/Q1 2020
Unemployment: 7.3% Sep 2020
Last update: 10 Nov 2020

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