Almost 20 years ago, the World Bank released a groundbreaking report – The East Asian Miracle – that called worldwide attention to the economic success of eight economies in the region, leading to a discussion on the extent to which policies followed by them could be replicated.
Science and Technology Development
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
Trade theory has always been lagging behind reality. From Ricardo ‘s (1817) explanation of trade based on relative productivity/technology differences among nations, it took over a century for Eli Heckscher and Bertil Ohlin (1933) to formalize a model that would explain inter- industry trade patterns based on a countries ’natural resources or factor endowments.
The global financial and economic crisis of 2008 has brought an urgency to focus on shorter-term policy issues related to managing bubbles, analyzing current development paradigms, and drawing out policy lessons for future action, particularly lessons learned during the past two years. At the same, longer-term development challenges also must be addressed to avoid the mistakes of 1970s and 1980s when managing stabilization issues dominated economic policy making and development economics was pushed aside for a while. For example, with the exception of East Asian countries and more recently India, why are African, Eastern European and Central Asian, and other South Asian countries unable to sustain high growth rates for more than five to seven years? What are the policy implications of demographic changes and climate change? There is a need for policy discussion on frontier topics such as rethinking globalization in trade, finance, and labor; new economic geography; green growth; and inclusive, balanced, and sustainable growth.
The 15th-century Florentine Niccolo Machiavelli is said to be the first to state, “Never waste the opportunities offered by a good crisis.” During a crisis, countries experiment with policies and learn a lot in a hurry. This overview shares this learning on early policy responses to the current economic crisis, focusing particularly on specific issues that are of interest to policy makers and practitioners in the developing countries. The overview is a compilation of notes that staff members of the World Bank Institute have used during global dialogues and international seminars and conferences since October 2008.
What brought the world to the edge of an abyss in September 2008? After quickly recovering from the Asian crisis of 1997-98, world economic growth accelerated during the period 2000-07. However, in hindsight, there was a ‘perfect storm’ in the making as US and European housing defaults began to pile up beginning in late 2006, oil prices doubled in a few months during late 2007 and early 2008, while rice, wheat, and corn prices jumped by 40-50% during the same period.
Innovation is crucial in long-term economic growth, even more so in the aftermath of the financial and economic crisis. Making innovation-driven growth happen requires action in a wide range of policy areas, from education and science and technology, to product and labor markets and trade. The OECD and the World Bank are joining forces to work more closely on innovation, particularly insofar as this issue is a crucial factor in the success of development policy, notably in middle-income economies.
Proponents of state intervention argue that ‘market failures’ in information, coordination, credit and others necessitate ‘infant-industry protection’ and therefore an activist role for the government. For example, information about success or failure of new industries or technological adoption may be only available to investors and innovators and not shared with other entrepreneurs. Also, new industries and technologies require complementary human capital, and basic infrastructure among other things.