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  • Publication Date: 05-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Despite a sharp housing market correction, overall growth has been holding up fairly well. Strong foreign demand and a decline in import growth have slowed the rise in the external deficit. With activity near capacity limits, some inflationary pressures have emerged. Reining them in without stifling growth is the main challenge for monetary policy. Looking further ahead, the key challenges are to sustain healthy growth and ensure fiscal sustainability in the face of population ageing. Against this backdrop, the Survey focuses on the following issues: Enhancing the economy's growth potential. Trend growth is slowing because labour productivity gains, though remaining high, no longer suffice to compensate for the deceleration in potential employment due mainly to demographic factors. Prospects for productivity growth appear favourable, but further efficiency gains could be achieved by tackling unfinished business in the area of structural reform. Labour supply could be boosted by increasing work incentives for the disabled, raising the earned income tax credit and delaying retirement eligibility.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Publication Date: 10-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Brazil is a major player in the global economy, one of the world's 10 largest economies, with a population of 180 million and vast natural resources. Brazil's agricultural land is exceeded only by China, Australia and the United States, and agriculture plays an important role in the country's economy. Primary agriculture accounts for 8% of GDP, while agricultural products account for about 30% of exports.
  • Topic: International Relations, Agriculture, Economics
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Brazil, South America, Australia
  • Publication Date: 10-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Despite higher energy prices, the expansion has continued at a solid pace, driven by private domestic demand. With the output gap closing, stimulus is appropriately being withdrawn. However, monetary tightening since mid-2004 has not yet translated into higher long-term interest rates, and the incipient decline in the federal budget deficit owes much to the recent buoyancy of revenues. Over the next 18 months, the economy is projected to grow at an annual rate of 3ΒΌ per cent, roughly in line with estimated potential output. Although such a soft landing is the most likely outcome, there are some risks. With little economic slack left, inflation could continue to pick up, in particular if oil prices keep rising. Insufficient public spending restraint or renewed dollar weakness associated with concerns about the external deficit might also add to inflationary pressures. On the other hand, an end to the house price boom, let alone a sharp correction, could entail a retrenchment of household expenditure that has been underpinned by rising household wealth.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Publication Date: 10-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: The textile and clothing industries provide employment for tens of million of people, primarily in developing countries, and accounted for USD 350 billion in merchandise exports in 2002, or 5.6% of the world total. The current rules governing world trade in textiles and clothing will change drastically at the end of 2004, when countries will no longer be able to protect their own industries by means of quantitative restrictions on imports of textile and clothing products. What will this mean for cotton growers in Burkina Faso and Turkey, fashion retailers in France and the United States, or shirt factories in Bangladesh, the Dominican Republic or China?
  • Topic: Civil Society, Development, Economics, Industrial Policy
  • Political Geography: Bangladesh, United States, China, Turkey, France
  • Publication Date: 04-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Economic performance over the past two decades has been impressive. Underpinned by an increased reliance on competitive forces, which have been stronger than in most other member countries for some time, productivity and output have accelerated significantly. In recent years, helped by timely macroeconomic policy responses, the economy has demonstrated its capacity to adjust to adverse shocks, so that the per capita growth gap against other countries has widened further. The outlook is for this to continue in the next few years, with real GDP expanding by around 4 per cent per annum. Nonetheless, there are a number of challenges that need to be addressed to sustain these laudable economic outcomes. By far the top priority is to confront the current and projected federal budget deficits. The fiscal stimulus of the past few years has been helpful in supporting the recovery, but if public dissaving is not reduced, interest rates may be higher, ultimately implying slower growth in economic potential. Increased budget discipline, and indeed significant reform on both the spending and revenue sides of the budget, will be necessary because of the impending demographic pressures on government finances. Corrective fiscal measures will also assist the unwinding of the current account deficit, which is unusually large for this stage of the cycle. As the Federal Reserve begins to move the federal funds rate back to a more neutral level, it will need to be especially attentive to the clarity of its communications with the markets. Further corporate-governance and accounting reforms would help to underpin confidence of domestic and foreign investors, thereby facilitating orderly current-account adjustment. Less reliance on import restrictions and maintaining a leadership role in trade liberalisation would favour structural adjustment at home. Furthermore, despite the generally pro-competitive thrust of antitrust and other regulatory policies, a number of areas deserve attention, notably intellectual property rights, telecommunications and electricity, where further reforms would be welfare enhancing.
  • Topic: Agriculture, Economics, Environment, Human Rights, International Organization, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Publication Date: 09-2003
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Canada's economy has done comparatively well over the past two years, demonstrating a noticeably improved resilience to unfavourable shocks. Over the medium term the economy is poised to achieve growth rates that compare favourably with past performance, but that will not be enough to eliminate the per capita income gap with the United States. The fundamental challenge is to make Canada an even more attractive place to live, work and invest. While past reforms have begun to pay off, there is still unfinished business. To boost the employment rate further the government should reduce disincentive effects arising from the tax and benefit systems by, for example, making greater use of in-work benefits and reintroducing experience rating of Employment Insurance users. Faster productivity gains are more likely to be achieved in an economic environment conducive to innovation. A key to greater dynamism is strengthening competition by eliminating remaining foreign ownership limits and barriers to internal and external trade and continuing electricity deregulation. Investing in skills should also remain a priority, with a particular emphasis on adult education. The nation has benefited by importing human capital from abroad through immigration but needs to intensify its efforts to remove the obstacles that prevent immigrants from having their skills fully utilised in the labour market. Having introduced a sound fiscal framework and reformed its public pension system Canada is in a better position than most other countries in facing ageing-related fiscal challenges, but the trend rise in health-care costs remains a risk. With the recent budget the government chose to address the short-term needs of the existing system. But, ultimately, ways to control the rise in budgetary costs - whether through incentives to raise efficiency or through cost sharing - will need to be explored, otherwise the resources needed to finance the future burden should be set aside in advance, for example by setting a bolder debt reduction target. Finally, environmental sustainability will be enhanced with least cost to the economy if the ambitious greenhouse gas emissions reduction is achieved through market-oriented instruments rather than command and control measures or voluntary agreements.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Economics, International Organization, International Trade and Finance, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: United States, Canada