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  • Publication Date: 05-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Budget consolidation is dominating the political agenda. The Hungarian government has embarked on an ambitious four-year consolidation programme following another election-year peak in the deficit in 2006 at 9.2% of GDP. The immediate revenue increases and spending cuts are temporarily damping growth. However, if all goes according to plan, the programme will bring dividends to the economy in the longer term. This payoff is crucially dependent on: Discipline in budgetary processes. Work needs to continue on strengthening budgetary mechanisms. A system of binding medium-term spending limits should be considered. Budgetary reform also needs to extend to the sub-national governments. Success in maintaining spending freezes. The re-scheduling that brought forward part of the 13th month payment to public-sector workers this year does not affect achievement of the 2007 fiscal target in accrual terms. Nevertheless, looking forward, strong resistance to spending pressures arising from revenue windfalls is of key importance. Implementation of the structural reform programme. The healthcare reforms that are expected to deliver a large share of fiscal savings are reasonably well advanced and a welcome cut in gas-price subsidies is already reducing government spending. The reforms in education are positive but the changes to the tuition–fee system in particular should go further. It is more uncertain, however, whether all the planned cuts in government administration will be realised. Successful reform of public spending requires the participation of the counties and municipal governments. There are potential savings in administrative overheads here too and sub-national governments are responsible for providing many government services. In-depth review of these issues in this Survey reveals a need to: Capture economies of scale. Political constraints preclude widespread mergers among the large number of small municipalities. However, the joint provision of services is widespread and should be encouraged further. Efforts to rationalise through replacement of county-level governments with regional assemblies should continue. Reform financing systems. The financing of sub-national government needs simplification and greater transparency and oversight in accounts. Also, the benchmarking of services via output and performance indicators needs to become more widespread. Reform of local taxation should include widening of property tax and removal of the local business tax. Hungary's low employment rate remains a key structural handicap to economic performance. There has been welcome reform of unemployment benefits and early-retirement pensions. Planned reforms to disability pensions look promising and a concrete proposal for old-age pension reform is in the pipeline. This Survey looks in depth at the issue of prolonged parental leave and other aspects of family policy: Current efforts to boost childcare services are welcome. Future reform needs to consider further strengthening of central-government provision requirements on municipalities regarding these services, matched by appropriate funding. A system of childcare vouchers for parents would be one way of increasing efficiency in the provision of services. Reform to the very long parental leaves should be considered, along with changes to the attendant system of additional cash benefits. Savings could be used to help fund increased childcare services.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Publication Date: 06-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Governments have long been engaged in providing goods or services to their citizens that could, in some form, be provided by the private sector. The trend over the past few decades, however, has been to transfer these functions, and the state-owned assets used to provide them, to private hands. The most common method, and the one usually preferred, is privatisation, or outright sale or transfer of ownership of the relevant assets to one or more private parties. A second, however, is concessions.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Government, Markets
  • Publication Date: 06-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Sweden's 1993 Competition Act (CA) remains the foundation of a broad policy approach that includes prohibitions against restrictive agreements and abuse of dominance, control of concentrations, advocacy and support for academic research. Enforcement of this legislation by the Swedish Competition Authority (SCA) marked a shift towards a judicial, rules-based approach.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: Europe, Sweden
  • Publication Date: 03-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Are policies to protect the environment giving value for money – and how can we know? Recognising that policy decisions should be based on a comparison of costs and benefits, a number of OECD governments have introduced legal provisions requiring a cost-benefit analysis (CBA) of new environmental regulations or measures.
  • Topic: International Relations, Economics, Environment, Government
  • Publication Date: 02-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Parliamentarians are at the heart of democratic systems. They pass laws and hold government purse strings. Because of their important role in national policy-making, it is only natural that the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) co-operate with parliamentarians when formulating its policy advice. So keeping parliamentarians informed of its activities and getting their feedback is a high priority for the Organisation.
  • Topic: International Relations, Development, Economics, Government
  • Publication Date: 02-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Preserving the environment is high on the agenda for both governments and society. Governments in OECD countries are using a variety of instruments to change environmentally harmful behaviour, and taxes have proved a useful string to their bow. Using taxes to achieve an environmental objective, such as reducing emissions of a particular pollutant, is efficient from an economic point of view and offers flexibility to adapt for those affected. Direct regulation of polluting activities, for example by setting legal limits on the emission level of certain pollutants, forces immediate compliance regardless of the comparative cost for different businesses and individuals, and can be more difficult and costly for some than for others. Environmental taxes leave more flexibility for those affected, because they can essentially “buy time” to make changes which will mean they do not have to pay the tax in the future. Thus, a tax on polluting activities or products allows those who can cut emissions cheaply to do so first, while allowing those with higher pollution control costs to pay the tax while taking time to make technological adjustments. This means that the economy as a whole will meet the same environmental objective more cheaply than by using direct regulation. While using taxes to achieve environmental objectives is clearly efficient for the economy as a whole, however, in practice individual businesses or sectors may resist because they will be “losers” in the equation. Governments need to address such concerns about the negative impacts of environmental taxes on sectoral competitiveness and on income distribution if environmentally related taxes are to be a useful tool. This Policy Brief looks at the political economy of environmental taxes and how governments can use them in conjunction with other policy instruments to achieve their environmental objectives.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Environment, Government, Political Economy
  • Publication Date: 01-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Cutting red tape is a priority on the political agenda. Businesses and citizens complain that they spend much time and devote significant resources to activities such as filling out forms, applying for permits and licences, reporting business information, notifying changes, etc.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, International Trade and Finance, Markets
  • Publication Date: 01-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Democratic governments want policies that are in the best interest of their citizens. But how can they – and their voters – be sure they are making the right choices? One answer is by learning from the tried and tested experience of others. One of the OECD'score strengths is its ability to offer its 30 members a framework to examine and compare experiences and discuss “best practices” in a host of areas from economic policy to environmental protection or strategies to create jobs.
  • Topic: Democratization, Environment, Government, International Cooperation
  • Publication Date: 03-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: China's evolution from a centrally-planned to a market-based economy is leading to major transformations of its public expenditure policies. Much progress has been made in raising infrastructure spending to a level more in line with China's development needs and in modernising mechanisms for budget planning and implementation. Nevertheless, significant challenges remain.
  • Topic: Development, Government, Markets
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Publication Date: 02-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: China's economic growth has averaged 9½ per cent over the past two decades. The rapid pace of economic change is likely to be sustained for some time. These gains have contributed not only to higher personal incomes, but also to a significant reduction in poverty. At the same time, the economy has become substantially integrated with the world economy. A large part of these gains have come through profound shifts in government policies. Reforms have allowed market prices and private investors to play a significant role in production and trade.
  • Topic: Agriculture, Government, International Organization
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Publication Date: 02-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: The OECD represents the governments of its 30 member countries, but it does not work for them in a vacuum. The major stakeholders of democratic societies – business, trade unions and other members of civil society – also have an important role in OECD work.
  • Topic: International Relations, Civil Society, Economics, Government
  • Publication Date: 12-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Predatory pricing is the practice of offering goods or services at exceptionally low prices, thereby forfeiting some profit in order to drive competitors out of the market, discipline them, and/or deter entry. It is among the most frequently discussed topics in competition law and economics.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Industrial Policy, Markets
  • Publication Date: 12-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Governments pay out some USD 6 billion a year to support the fisheries sector in OECD countries. This money, variously called subsidies, support or financial transfers, is used to help manage fish stocks, to modernise fishing fleets, and to help communities and regions that can no longer make a living out of fishing to develop other economic activity. The money is also intended to assist in resolving problems of over-fishing and over-capacity that affect many parts of the OECD fishing industry.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Environment, Government
  • Publication Date: 11-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Governments have made major changes to the way they manage the public sector in the past two decades, privatising commercial activities such as telephone services, cutting red tape and making government more transparent and responsive to citizens.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Economics, Government, Science and Technology
  • Publication Date: 10-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Steady increases in trade volumes and complexity in recent years have significantly changed the operating environment for the international trading community. They have also highlighted the negative impact of inefficient border procedures on governments, businesses and ultimately on the customer and the economy as a whole. Governments may face smuggling, fraud and national security problems, which drain the public coffers, while businesses pay the price of slow and unpredictable goods delivery, costly customs procedures, and even lost business opportunities. And all these costs ultimately make goods more expensive for the consumer.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, International Trade and Finance
  • Publication Date: 10-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: The modern era of competition policy in Brazil began in 1994 with the enactment of a new law as part of the “Real Plan”, a set of policies developed to deal with a period of hyperinflation. The law established a Brazilian Competition Policy System (BCPS) consisting of three agencies: a re-configured Administrative Council for Economic Defence (CADE), which had originally been created in 1962, the Economic Law Office (SDE) in the Ministry of Justice, and the Secretariat for Economic Monitoring (SEAE) in the Ministry of Finance. CADE has adjudicative authority in BCPS cases, while SDE has the principal investigative role, and SEAE is primarily responsible for providing economic analysis.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: Brazil, South America
  • Publication Date: 09-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: The evolution of Turkey's economy from a government-controlled regime to market-based competition led to the enactment in 1994 of the Act on the Protection of Competition (“Competition Act”) and the creation of the Turkish Competition Authority (“TCA”). Final impetus for the legislation was Turkey's negotiation of a customs union agreement with the European Union, which obliged Turkey to enact the EU's standard competition provisions as its own law and to establish an agency to enforce them.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Markets
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Eastern Europe
  • Publication Date: 09-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: China's economic reforms over the past two decades have brought remarkable growth, the development of a vibrant private sector and significant reform of the state-owned sector. Private businesses now represent some 57% of GDP, and productivity in the state-owned sector has improved significantly. However, a number of problems threaten to undermine prospects for sustainable growth. These notably include social tensions, partly due to increasing inequality within society and massive migration to the cities, but also linked to corruption, insufficient public services and rising unemployment as millions of workers have been laid off in the reform of the state-owned sector, while agriculture still displays huge structural under-employment.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Publication Date: 09-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Conflict of interest has become a key issue in public debate worldwide in recent years, not just in the private sector but also increasingly in the public sector. The breaking down of barriers between public and private sectors — through the privatisation of services, public/private partnerships and exchanges of personnel — has created grey zones and opportunities for corruption. For instance, conflicts between public officials' individual private interests and their public duties have multiplied due to the contracting out of government functions such as defence. Temporary public service employees could in particular use information that is not available to the public concerning defence department policies to obtain contracts with future clients.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Relations, Government, Privatization
  • Publication Date: 07-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: The composition of growth of the Hungarian economy has become healthier and real convergence looks set to be on a sustainable path. While most reforms to establish a flourishing market economy have been carried out and the current government is launching a new reform initiative of "100 Steps", more needs to be done in two broad areas in order to maintain high growth: Achieving a smooth entry into the euro area: Frequently missed policy targets, tensions between the government and the Central Bank and stubbornly high twin deficits have established an unhealthy climate of financial volatility, which contrasts with and may even risk threatening the rather smooth process of real convergence. Increasing trend growth by both raising the employment potential and trend productivity growth: A large share of Hungarians with some work capacity is not working in part because of the way social benefits are designed. Low employment is aggravated by impediments to regional mobility of the labour force. Hungary needs to move further up the value added chain. This process for the time being rests very much on investments by foreign companies while innovative activities and commercial applications of own research remain limited.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: Eastern Europe, Hungary
  • Publication Date: 07-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Economic policy in the euro area pursues the objectives of achieving solid economic growth, a better performance of labour markets and restoring sound public finances in the context of a single monetary policy which aims at maintaining price stability. Although inflation has remained just above the ECB's definition of price stability, longer-term inflation expectations remain firmly anchored to price stability. However, progress towards the other goals has been disappointing thus far partly owing to adverse shocks such as higher oil prices or exchange rate shifts. On unchanged policies and with population ageing the euro area's potential output growth is set to decelerate over the next decades and eventually stabilises at around 1% per annum by about 2020, as illustrated in the following scenario:
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Publication Date: 07-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Recent and prospective growth performance is good. The Greek economy has continued to grow vigorously, buoyed especially by low nominal and real interest rates and an expansionary fiscal policy stance, largely reflecting public works in preparation for the Olympic Games in 2004. The outlook is for some slowing activity in the near term, triggered by fiscal consolidation, but a subsequent pick-up in growth thereafter. However, inflation is likely to remain above the euro-area average, to a certain extent eroding Greece's international competitiveness. Fiscal consolidation is the main priority. The fiscal audit, performed by the new government in close collaboration with Eurostat has revealed a very loose fiscal policy since the late 1990s, culminating in a general government deficit of 6% of GDP in 2004. The government debt-to-GDP ratio has remained stubbornly above 100%, despite uninterrupted strong growth during the past eleven years. Reining in government deficits is of vital importance both to meet the fiscal objectives of EMU, and to prepare for demographically-related budget pressures that will start emerging in a decade's time. Moreover, sustained high public debt makes Greece relatively more vulnerable to changes in interest rates and market sentiment, while it's servicing threatens to crowd out public spending in areas important for Greece's ambitions to reach income levels elsewhere in the EU.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: Europe, Greece
  • Publication Date: 07-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: The economy has continued on its strong upward course and living standards – measured as real GDP per person – have risen steadily over the past decade, putting the country on track towards the government’s objective of returning to the top half of the OECD. But capacity has become increasingly strained, and monetary policy has been tightened to ensure inflation remains well anchored. The country’s prospects are bright, with potential growth projected to remain comfortably above 3% per year over the medium term
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: Australia/Pacific, New Zealand
  • Publication Date: 06-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: All OECD governments recognise the need to provide income support for the unemployed. But how do they ensure that income support provides a cushion for a brief period to enable the person to find a new job, without becoming a permanent alternative to work? Cutting benefit levels would automatically increase the incentive to move from welfare to work, but it would not help people to find suitable employment and would aggravate social hardship for those who do not enter employment at all. Providing income support for jobseekers while at the same time strengthening their incentive to work is a puzzle that most OECD countries are still trying to solve.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Economics, Government, Human Welfare
  • Publication Date: 06-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: The Swedish economy has undergone impressive changes and has delivered a remarkable surge in productivity since the mid-1990s. Consequently, per capita incomes are slowly making up the ground lost in earlier decades. Labour market performance, however, has been less inspiring. Employment rates have yet to recover to their 1990 peaks and hours of work need to increase to support the welfare state.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: Europe, Sweden
  • Publication Date: 05-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: The Austrian economy has demonstrated the capacity to take advantage of positive external developments. Important challenges remain, however, in two areas: Fiscal performance needs to be improved despite substantial progress in securing the sustainability of government finances: government debt is still relatively high, fiscal consolidation also incorporates significant one-off measures and fiscal federal relations are often inefficient. Trend growth is still held back by low labour force participation of older workers – also a potential source of future growth deceleration, high seasonal inactivity, relatively weak productivity growth in the services and a sub-optimal environment for innovation activities.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Government
  • Publication Date: 05-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Over the past two decades, governments battling budget pressures and public perceptions of civil servants as under-worked and overpaid have been seeking ways to make the public service perform better. Alongside government re-organisation and privatisation of services such as telecommunications and water, governments have been modernising the management of their civil servants.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Development, Economics, Government
  • Publication Date: 04-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: In the past two decades, new forms of public sector management, privatisation and new technologies have changed the way the public sector operates, but have also created a need for new ways of making both agencies and governments accountable for what they do. With an increasingly devolved public sector, ensuring conformity with government policy objectives, control of expenditure and monitoring of actual agency performance has become increasingly complex. At the same time, the changing relationship between government and the public sector has profoundly affected the traditional accountability of ministers to the legislature
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Government, Science and Technology
  • Publication Date: 03-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Reforming pensions is one of the biggest challenges of the 21st century. All OECD countries have to adjust to the ageing of their populations and re-balance retirement income provision to keep it adequate and ensure that the system is financially sustainable.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Economics, Government, Human Welfare
  • Publication Date: 03-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: All OECD governments attach importance to combating poverty and exclusion, and for good reason. Poverty and exclusion are evidence of a society that wastes human resources, opportunities and life-chances, both now and for the future. Failure to tackle the poverty and exclusion facing millions of families and their children is not only socially reprehensible, but will also weigh heavily on countries' capacity to sustain economic growth in years to come.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Human Welfare, Poverty
  • Publication Date: 03-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: The Spanish economy has enjoyed many years of brisk growth and has recovered swiftly from the recent international slowdown. Activity has been boosted by low interest rates and strong job creation, and underpinned by structural reforms and a sound fiscal policy. As a result, the income gap with the euro area steadily narrowed. However, tensions have arisen that could undermine the strong growth performance as inflation is relatively high, eroding competitiveness, while the surge in house prices does not yet show signs of abating. Also productivity gains have remained meagre and unemployment is still high.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Europe, Spain
  • Publication Date: 03-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Demand for long-term care for older people is set to rise steeply in OECD countries as the baby-boom generation reaches old age. But can they be sure of receiving quality care at a price they can afford? People in need of long term care increasingly demand high-quality care, and differences in the quality and availability of such services across OECD countries show some are not getting it. How can governments in OECD countries respond to the growing demand for these services? What do they need to do to improve access to long-term care, improve quality of services and make care affordable?
  • Topic: Civil Society, Economics, Government, Human Welfare
  • Publication Date: 03-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: The dominant challenge for Belgium in the years to come is to prepare for population ageing. This entails putting in place policies to attenuate its effects on economic growth and public finances. The few years left before large numbers of baby boomers retire provide a window of opportunity to push ahead with such policies and so preserve the essential elements of the system of social protection. First, further budget consolidation is required to put public finances on a sustainable path. Second, reforms are needed to increase employment rates, especially for the older working age-population, school leavers and ethnic minorities, and to slow the decline in working time. Finally, reforms are required to raise productivity growth.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Publication Date: 03-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: This Survey's general assessment is that Brazil is currently reaping the benefits of macroeconomic consolidation, underpinned by a prudent policy stance. Much progress has been made in fiscal consolidation and monetary policy continues to be conducted in a forward- looking manner. The external adjustment has been remarkable, with continued strong export performance, making the economy more resilient to changes in market sentiment. These achievements owe much to the strengthening of institutions, in particular the inflation targeting framework and the Fiscal Responsibility legislation. The economic recovery is now firmly established. But the consolidation of macroeconomic stability remains essential moving forward, coupled with further structural reform, to ensure that the positive outlook ushers in a virtuous circle of improved confidence and resilient, equitable growth.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Brazil, South America
  • Publication Date: 02-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Governments are under increasing pressure to open up to public scrutiny, to be more accessible to the people who elected them and more responsive to their demands and needs. Indeed, an open government that meets all these requirements is increasingly recognised as an essential ingredient for de mocratic governance, social stability and economic development.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Development, Economics, Government
  • Publication Date: 01-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Recent and prospective performance is good. The Australian economy is still benefiting from the programme of widespread and deep reforms that started in the 1980s and was especially intensive in the 1990s. These made it easier to set macro policies in a stability-oriented medium-term framework. The combination resulted in a thirteen year long economic expansion accompanied by low inflation, high resilience to external and domestic shocks, and very healthy public finances. The short term outlook is for continuing brisk low- inflationary growth.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Australia, Australia/Pacific
  • Publication Date: 01-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: The strengthening of the economy has raised hopes that Japan is emerging from a decade of stagnation. Output has been increasing at a more than 2 per cent annual rate since 2002, reflecting strong external demand and the progress made in corporate restructuring and economic reform. However, Japan still faces a number of serious headwinds to sustained growth, notably entrenched deflation and continued declines in bank lending and land prices. Meanwhile, the government's financial position continues to deteriorate, raising concerns about fiscal sustainability at the same time that population ageing is increasing demands for public spending. Addressing these challenges requires a combination of well-designed macroeconomic policies and structural measures to boost the growth potential and ensure rising living standards in the face of rapid population ageing.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Japan, Israel
  • Publication Date: 11-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: When the Russian Federation began its transition toward a market based economy, promoting competition and regulating anticompetitive behavior - issues never previously needing to be addressed - arose as new and unfamiliar subjects for state policymaking and law enforcement activities. In order to address these issues, the Russian Federation created a competition authority and basic law in 1991, quite early in its transition period. Support for competition was expressed in the 1993 Constitution, as well as in other fundamental legislation. As part of a larger study of regulatory reform, the OECD in 2003 undertook a detailed assessment of Russia fs decade of experience with competition law and policy. The Report concludes that despite early legislation on the issue and strong expressions of support for competition in the laws, the creation and protection of competition on domestic markets has not been a policy priority. Emphasis on rapid privatization limited the scope of pre-privatization restructuring to promote competition and the competition authority has been expected to serve as a general regulator of behavior in markets, assigned to fill legislative gaps and to enforce against a variety of undesirable practices in markets. Overly broad responsibilities and a lack of credible sanctions have significantly limited the impact of the competition laws.
  • Topic: International Relations, Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: Russia
  • Publication Date: 11-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Performance – improving it and measuring it – has pre-occupied governments for at least half a century. Over the past two decades, public sector performance has taken on special urgency as OECD countries have faced recessions, mounting demands for more and better public services, and, in some countries, citizens increasingly unwilling to pay higher taxes. Accompanying these pressures have been demands for more public accountability.
  • Topic: International Relations, Development, Economics, Government
  • Publication Date: 10-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Mexico City's spectacular growth into one of the world's largest metropolitan regions is giving way to new development dynamics. The Metropolitan Area of Mexico City (MAMC), with a population of approximately 18.4 million people, is undergoing two main transitions: first, from high population growth to relative demographic stability and spatial redistribution, and second, from a declining manufacturing economy focused on national markets to one based on services competing internationally.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: North America, Mexico
  • Publication Date: 09-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Deregulating labour markets – for example making it easier for firms to hire and fire employees – is at the heart of the employment debate in many OECD countries. Laws on firing or layoffs and other employment protection regulations are thought by many to be a key factor in generating labour market "rigidity", as well as one reason for the large differences in labour market performance among OECD countries, notably between the United States and some of the larger European countries.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Development, Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Publication Date: 09-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Convergence of the Portuguese economy toward the more advanced OECD economies seems to have halted in recent years, leaving a significant gap in per capita incomes. The proximate cause is low labour productivity, as employment rates across the board are substantially higher than the EU average. Nor is there a shortage of capital goods in aggregate. But capital equipment in the business sector is not always efficiently used or allocated, and new technologies are not readily adopted. Furthermore, the Portuguese labour force – even its younger members – have had less formal education than workers in other EU countries, including among the new entrants from Central and Eastern Europe, and workers in Portugal also have less access to training than in many other countries. Traditional Portuguese low value-added highly labourintensive products now face increasing competition from developing countries and from the new EU entrants.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: Europe, Eastern Europe
  • Publication Date: 09-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Japan's Fair Trade Commission, created in 1947, is one of the oldest and largest competition law enforcement agencies in the world. Before the 1990s, though, competition had usually played a subordinate role in Japan's regulatory policies, while aspects of Japan's traditional approach to regulation had contradicted principles of modern competition policy. Over the past decade of reform in Japan, this attitude toward competition policy has been changing.
  • Topic: Development, Government, International Law
  • Political Geography: Japan, Israel
  • Author: Martin Grandes, Nicolas Pinaud
  • Publication Date: 09-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Lowering interest rates and, thus, the cost of borrowing in the rand zone (Lesotho, Namibia, Swaziland and South Africa) is a priority to promote investment and economic growth. Local-currency interest rates in these countries are driven by those on rand-denominated transactions. Reducing the level and volatility of the rand premium would help reduce financing costs in the region. Policies should promote: enhancing financial-market liquidity; easier access to South African financial markets for African entities; domestic saving capacity; and the improvement of international perception of the rand. Johannesburg could become a financial "hub" for the region, channelling cheap resources to its neighbours.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Africa, South Africa, Swaziland, Namibia
  • Publication Date: 09-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Governments have always changed their structures to respond to new priorities in a changing society, or to improve the management of existing ones. They have also taken advantage of new capacities and better governance in society in general to put some of the functions previously performed in the core public service at arm's length, or even to privatise or contract them out.
  • Topic: International Relations, Civil Society, Economics, Government
  • Publication Date: 08-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Higher education has become increasingly international in the past decade as more and more students choose to study abroad, enrol in foreign educational programmes and institutions in their home country, or simply use the Internet to take courses at colleges or universities in other countries. This growth is the result of several different, but not mutually exclusive, driving forces: a desire to promote mutual understanding; the migration of skilled workers in a globalised economy; the desire of the institutions to generate additional revenues; or the need to build a more educated workforce in the home countries, generally as emerging economies.
  • Topic: International Relations, Civil Society, Education, Government
  • Publication Date: 08-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: The integrity of businesses and markets is central to the vitality and stability of our economies. So good corporate governance – the rules and practices that govern the relationship between the managers and shareholders of corporations, as well as stakeholders like employees and creditors – contributes to growth and financial stability by underpinning market confidence, financial market integrity and economic efficiency. Recent corporate scandals have focussed the minds of governments, regulators, companies, investors and the general public on weaknesses in corporate governance systems and the need to address this issue.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Government, Political Economy
  • Publication Date: 07-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: When it comes to the nuts and bolts of government, OECD countries have one thing in common: a core public service. In other words, a centrally controlled bureaucracy made up of people working in ministries, departments and government agencies to carry out the business of government. Civil service structures have evolved around the idea that public employment is different from other types of work and therefore requires a special employment system and structure.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Development, Economics, Government
  • Publication Date: 06-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Korea has been one of the fastest growing economies in the OECD area over the past five years, with an annual growth rate of about 6 per cent. Such rapid growth, which has lifted per capita income to two-thirds of the OECD average, reflects Korea's underlying dynamism and its progress in implementing a wide-ranging reform programme in the wake of the 1997 crisis. However, the recession in 2003 – which was due in part to structural problems in the labour market and in the corporate and financial sectors – indicates that the reform agenda is unfinished. Sustaining rapid growth over the medium term as the contribution from inputs of labour and capital slows requires further progress in structural reform, particularly in the labour market and in the corporate and financial sectors, accompanied by appropriate macroeconomic policies.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: Asia, Korea
  • Publication Date: 06-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Mexico's competition policy was introduced as part of a decade-long reform initiative, begun in the mid-1980s, to end central government control and protection of domestic economic activity and to develop instead a market-based economy. A key element in the government's economic reform was the adoption, in 1993, of the Federal Law of Economic Competition (LFCE), and creation of the Federal Competition Commission (CFC) to enforce it.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: North America, Mexico