Gross Domestic Product (GDP) estimates are some of the most heavily requested and used data published on data.worldbank.org. And as many users notice, the estimates are sometimes revised, occasionally resulting in large changes from previously published values. Why do revisions happen, what information do we publish about those revisions, and where do you find it?
A clear pattern of 'two speed recovery' emerged from the global economic crisis: although the East Asian economies saw a drop of nearly 4 percentage points in their GDP growth to 8.5 percent in 2008 and a further decline to 7.5 percent in 2009, they rebounded quickly to 9.7 percent in 2010. At the same time, however, growth in high income countries fell by 6.6 percentage points during 2008-09, from 2.7 percent in 2007 to -3.9 in 2009. Moreover, these economies are not yet out of the woods given the sovereign debt crises in the Euro Area. This is one of the many fascinating patterns revealed in the newly updated online version of the World Development Indicators.
What is more striking is that low income countries (LICs) have been resilient during the crises, more so than in the past. The annual GDP growth rate for low income countries declined less than 1 percentage point in 2008, standing at 4.7 percent in 2009 and quickly recovered to 5.9 percent in 2010. In particular, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Tanzania, and Zambia have shown robust growth of 6 to 11 percent throughout this period. Similar conclusions were presented in Didier, Hevia and Schmukler April 2011.
Renowned British economic historian Niall Ferguson in his new and dazzling history of Western ideas, Civilization: The West and the Rest, argues as his central thesis that the West developed six killer “apps”—referring to the popular software applications for smartphones and tablets—that caused the West to dominate the global stage for the last 500 years. These key institutions and complexes of ideas, such as “competition,” “property rights,” “the Work Ethic,” were what led the West to preside (relatively unchallenged) over global politics, economics, and culture, despite the fact that the civilizations of the Orient were much more advanced than Western Europe in the 1400s, which was plagued by disease and war. Over time, however, the West has become, as Ferguson puts it, a “template” for the Rest (i.e. non-Western countries), which have been copying (or downloading) the apps and are now on the verge of overtaking the West in terms of economic strength and size, led by China.
Available in: монгол хэл
There is good news coming out of Mongolia, the land of the eternal blue skies. The economy racked up a second quarter of high growth: the third quarter came in at 20.8 percent, topping the equally amazing second quarter of 17.3 percent (year-on-year GDP growth), as discussed in the World Bank's latest Mongolia Quarterly Update. And while this growth spurt originated in the mining sector, with Oyu Tolgoi—a mega copper and gold mine—getting ready to start producing in 2012 and a whole battery of other, smaller mines producing at full capacity, the high growth is quite broad-based. Even manufacturing is doing well.
(Available in Chinese)
This is the first blog post I write after revisiting China’s recent economic developments, the outlook, and policy implications as part of writing our latest China Quarterly Update. After this general overview I will in a few days write one on some interesting medium term trends on relative prices and the relative importance of external trade in China’s economy (they are also discussed in the Quarterly).
The term “normalization” has been used a lot lately in relation to the composition of growth and macroeconomic policy stance, also in China. But it is hard to avoid it. During 2010, China’s composition of growth started to “normalize”—as in look like it typically does—after the spectacular developments in 2009, when a massive government-led domestic demand surge offset a huge contraction in exports. Later in 2010, the macroeconomic policy stance also started to “normalize”. I guess many of us use the word “normalization” to describe or prescribe a macro policy stance that would be in line with the “normalized” economic outlook, as opposed to a particularly tight stance.
(Also available in Chinese)
As an economist monitoring the macroeconomic developments of the Chinese economy, dealing with data is one of my main jobs. I am so happy that now I have a new tool to handle data and make economic analysis. It is the World Bank Open Data platform launched recently. Based on my user experience till now, I found two features of it are specially worth highlighting:
The rapidly rising economic weight of developing countries – now in its third decade, rather than a product of the crisis, is notable for several interrelated developments:
• Developing economies as a whole have been growing faster than advanced economies since the 1970s, on both aggregate and per capita terms. (Read more about growth poles - .pdf)
• The margin between these growth rates has risen of late, although growth paths have become more synchronized. Decoupled in trend terms, more coupled in cyclical terms? (There is an abundant discussion of “decoupling”: see one example here and one here)
A couple of weeks ago the Bank released its half-yearly economic assessment of developing countries in the East Asia and Pacific region. The report confirmed the robust recovery of the region's economies overall, but flagged a number of emerging risks, particularly around the return of large capital inflows and appreciating currencies.
Ghana. Photo: © Arne Hoel/The World Bank
If you have ever had a conversation with a finance minister couched in terms of hectares of forestland or tons of greenhouse gases, then you appreciate one of the central problems of environment and development. It tends to be a short conversation, and for good reason – talking about the environment and natural resources this way simply doesn’t fit the model used by economists. If we want to reach ministers of finance and development planning we need not only to value the economic contribution of nature, but to express it in the framework of the System of National Accounts (which includes, among other measures, Gross Domestic Product or GDP as the predominant indicator of economic progress used by macroeconomists).