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February 2012

A State of Hope in a State of Uncertainty

Otaviano Canuto's picture

Photo: Dmitry Kirillov / World BankIn a world in economic turmoil, calls for greater fiscal austerity, leaner social entitlements, and smaller government expenditures are seemingly ubiquitous. From the United States to the Euro Zone, the size and role of government are being questioned. Yet, at the same time, the recent financial crisis has highlighted the importance of the state as a regulator of the financial system.

How to Ascend after Declining?

Otaviano Canuto's picture

growthThe state of the global economy is now more troubled than what most pundits had predicted. The great recession of 2007-09 has left permanent scars and the global recovery has lost steam. In the industrialized world, the Eurozone is struggling to save its common currency and avert an even larger debt crisis. Across the Atlantic, although things are looking slightly better, the United States still faces damaged household balance sheets, depressed consumption, and persistent unemployment.  In the developing world, the remarkable role that emerging markets have played as alternate engines of global growth is no longer certain. And this is truly worrisome because in the years that followed the recession, developing countries came to the global economy’s partial rescue, helping advanced economies from slipping into an even deeper recession.

In 2010 and 2011, developing countries grew 7.3 and 6 percent respectively, compared to the 3 and 1.6 percent growth of high-income countries, according to the World Bank’s latest Global Economic Prospects. Nevertheless, growth in several major developing countries like Brazil, China and India is significantly slower than earlier in the recovery, mainly reflecting a tightening of monetary policy to combat rising inflationary pressures but also the low-growth path in advanced economies. As a result, developing countries are now expected to grow only 5.4 percent this year.

Is the landscape of innovation changing?

Is the landscape of innovation, traditionally concentrated in a handful of OECD countries, shifting worldwide? To what extent has the recent economic crisis affected this change? And what may be the implications of this shift for global growth?

It was to tackle some of these pressing questions that a high-level symposium, bringing together policymakers from developing and developed countries including from Vietnam, Brazil and China; leading academics including Harvard University’s Philippe Aghion; and experts met in Paris in January 2012 at the invitation of the OECD and the Growth Dialogue, in partnership with the World Bank Institute.

Innovation has long been identified as central to sustained economic growth. With 2012 real GDP growth forecast globally at

Capital Account Liberalization: Are there Lessons to be Learned?

Otaviano Canuto's picture

Photo: WikiCommons User, CopyLeftAfter the Second World War, advanced economies began an ambitious process toward capital account liberalization, which prioritized the liberalization of trade, the maintenance of fixed exchange rates, and a commitment to current account convertibility.

Unemployment rates are falling—but what about youth and women?

Tamar Manuelyan Atinc's picture

Persistently high unemployment rates continue to trouble policymakers in developed and developing countries alike—but the recent Job Trends report brings some good news. After successive years of disappointing labor market performance, several countries in Eastern Europe may finally be turning the corner. These countries suffered most during the financial crisis, so the recovery in job creation is much needed to boost family incomes. In the rest of the developing world, the headlines are positive even while we see some moderation in employment and wage growth in Latin America and East Asia.

I have two concerns at this stage. I suspect most observers of the world economy share my first concern that the incipient recovery is fragile, given the continuing economic turmoil in Europe. But I am also concerned with what’s happening with specific groups, such as youth and women. I have a hunch that the recovery is and will be uneven with youth, women and the less skilled having a harder time finding jobs—even if aggregate numbers show steady gains. The crisis hit young workers hard, particularly young men, and countries are dealing with long-term consequences. Unfortunately, few countries know what’s happening with groups of workers because the data are not collected routinely or if they are, the results are available only with a relatively long lag time.

Where recent data are available, the story is mixed. Although youth unemployment remains alarmingly high at 20-30 percent,

Are Emerging Markets Leading the Way in Job Creation?

Otaviano Canuto's picture

Photo: Wiki Commons User_KozuchWith a few exceptions, industrialized nations are still struggling with unemployment, unable to recover completely from the 2008 economic crisis. In the U.S. things seem to be improving as the unemployment rate fell in January to 8.3 percent, its lowest level since early 2009, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Why Dwell Time Matters

The state-owned operator of Indonesia’s Tanjung Priok Port is taking major steps to decrease congestion at the country’s main gateway. The company, Pelindo II, recently announced it will increase storage fees at the port to discourage shippers from leaving containers there for long periods of time. It has also said it will install a new information technology system to better monitor and direct traffic at the port.

The two initiatives are an effort to boost the performance of a port that handles two-thirds of Indonesia’s international trade. The container traffic at Tanjung Priok has grown at a rate of about 20 percent the last two years and is expected to double by 2015. But containers arriving at the port spend an average of 6 days to obtain clearance and get removed, one of the highest “dwell time” rates in the region and up from 4.9 days in 2010.

Economists and government officials are trying to bring down this number. As a statistic, dwell time is a vital measure of a country’s ease of trade. When dwell time is high,

Should We Still Worry About Food Prices?

Otaviano Canuto's picture

Food prices are finally coming down after a year of spikes and high volatility. But we must remain vigilant. Prices of certain foods remain very high, and millions of people around the world are still at risk of suffering from malnutrition and hunger.

Let’s get to the numbers first.