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House prices: Which way now?

Financial market failures were a major cause of the economic crisis, but property markets, particularly for housing, have had a leading part to play too. From the subprime debacle in the US to the bursting of unprecedented real estate bubbles in Ireland, Spain and Greece, among others, the overheating and collapse of property markets not only hurt savings and investments, but was felt throughout entire economies, affecting construction, employment, lending, spending and more.

Unemployment still high

Recovery worries

“Growth is turning out to be much slower than we thought three months ago,"  OECD Chief Economist Pier Carlo Padoan said when issuing his organisation's forecast update for major global economies on 8 September. 

Migration in a crisis

Migration into OECD countries fell by about 7% in 2009 to 4.3 million people, down from just over 4.5 million in 2008. Recent national data suggest migration numbers fell further in 2010, the 2011 International Migration Outlook says.

Food inflation rises

Food prices have increased over the year to January 2011 in many of the world’s economies. Moreover, those increases, which accelerated from mid-2010, reversed the downward trend in food prices of 2009 and the first half of 2010, OECD-FAO Agriculture Outlook 2011-2020 says. Threequarters of the OECD countries recorded retail food price increases of 5% or less, while price increases exceeded that in half a dozen or so countries. Two OECD countries, Korea and Estonia, experienced increases of over 10%. Brazil, China, Indonesia and Russia all had double-digit rates of food infl ation during the year to January 2011, well up on the previous year. In South Africa, food prices increased by a moderate 3.3%, though this represented a doubling from the rate of the previous year. Food price inflation also accelerated in the second half of 2010 in several countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Untangling intangible assets

Assets you cannot touch lie behind successful innovations. What are they and how can policy make a difference?

Tourism: Rooms for improvement

Israel is a popular holiday destination, thanks to cultural and historical, but also leisure, attractions. But there are challenges to overcome.

A profile of the Israeli economy

In many respects Israel’s short but dramatic history has created a combination of economic, social, demographic and political circumstances without close parallel with any other OECD member country. Some of these characteristics are outlined here, and are explored in more depth in the OECD’s first Economic Survey of Israel, published in 2010.

Pushing the boundaries forward

The OECD 50th Anniversary Week 2011 was a momentous and inspirational occasion. Against the background of a fragile recovery of the world economy, 21 heads of state and government and deputy prime ministers, 86 ministers and state secretaries, and over 2,000 participants from business, labour and civil society gathered to identify and discuss the policies needed to achieve a more inclusive and greener path to economic growth and job creation.

The OECD Green Growth Strategy

How can policy help expand economic opportunities without overly straining natural resources or destroying the planet? And how can we relieve intensifying environmental pressures that currently threaten our welfare? The OECD Green Growth Strategy points a way forward.

OECD Forum 2011: Better policies for better lives

Uncertainty about the future, eagerness to devise new ways of managing our economies, and to contribute to the debate on how to make better policies for better lives: these were just some of the discernable public moods at the OECD Forum, held on 24-25 May.

Development aid to slow

Development aid from OECD donor countries totalled $129 billion in 2010, the highest level ever, and an increase of 6.5% over 2009. But despite this record, the 2010 figures confirm that some donors are not meeting internationally agreed commitments.

50 years of trade and co-operation: Work in progress

Canada is a trading nation. As a geographically large country, rich in natural resources and with a relatively small population, trade was a natural starting point. But Canada has built on this foundation and today boasts a highly skilled and educated work force, a well-developed physical and financial infrastructure, a transparent and predictable regulatory environment, and a high degree of openness to trade and investment.

Bench strength: Winter Olympics 2010

Major sporting events can boost economies, while giving people a boost too. The Winter Olympics in Vancouver in 2010, which were pulled off to great applause despite the odds, were no exception. How was it done, and what lessons did the organisers learn? We spoke with John Furlong, who headed up the organising committee responsible for the games.

50 years of productive partnership

Why do some businesses, organisations, economies and even countries succeed in achieving their objectives while others do not? Important insights are provided if we treat each of these entities as a complex adaptive system, subject to the same processes as biological evolution.

Canada's economy

Interview with James M. Flaherty, Minister of Finance, Government of Canada

For a better future

This year we are celebrating the 50th anniversary of a remarkable organisation which has brought a huge and, in many ways, immeasurable impact to the economic and social development not only of its members, but of the world community of nations.

OECD and Canada: Celebrating 50 years of co-operation

The OECD allows policymakers to come together to identify best practices that shape our public policies. It allows us to compare and benchmark our performance, and learn from top performers. By participating in the OECD peer review process, we benefit from frank discussion among equals on our accomplishments and shortfalls in a variety of areas, from the economy to development policies. The objective and credible analysis provided by the OECD strengthens these discussions. Overall, Canada’s socio-economic performance is strong compared with the OECD. However, in order to improve further, we need to know where others are doing better and to learn how they are achieving these results.

Trade for aid

As efforts to restart the stalled Doha Development Round negotiations intensify, the policy focus on world trade, and, specifically, its relation to development aid and growth in poorer countries, has become more acute. Trade is a powerful engine for economic growth, as the OECD’s founders argued 50 years ago, and, as such, can contribute to reducing poverty. However, efforts to improve trade in developing countries are often hampered by domestic constraints, particularly a lack of adequate economic infrastructures, as well as institutional and organisational obstacles.

The OECD is a "force for good"

“The government’s top priority is reducing the nation’s deficit and returning Britain to strong and sustainable growth. That means the right economic policies at home and creating the right economic environment abroad.

Governments and markets: Time to get serious

How can we all learn from a crisis? Today, we find ourselves in a disappointing, if not altogether unexpected, predicament. The very governments who took bold and decisive action in the period of the financial crisis 2008-09 to bail out banks and keep financial markets alive now find themselves on the receiving end of severe punishment from financial markets. How could this be?

Cooking lesson

A new kitchen can raise the value of any home, but in developing countries it can also save lives. That is why in 2010 the OECD’s very own staff charity, the War on Hunger Group, decided to contribute funding to fitting a new kitchen in the headquarters of AFENA, an NGO dedicated to looking after abandoned women and children, and based in Niger’s second city, Maradi.

Microcredit, big future

Microcredit has become a popular way to finance small businesses and local development projects, particularly in poorer countries. Economist, author, founder and first chairman of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), Jacques Attali is founder of PlaNet Finance, which runs microfinance programmes in over 80 countries. In the run up to the OECD Forum in May 2011 where he is due to speak, Mr Attali talked to the OECD Observer.

Israel's economic strategy

A year ago, at the 2010 OECD Ministerial Council Meeting, Israel was formally invited to become a member of the OECD, following three years of accession negotiations. Israel duly became the organisation’s 33rd member country a few months later, in September 2010. The OECD Observer asked the minister of finance, Yuval Steinitz, to outline his views on the country’s economic challenges.

Bank crisis: Why private creditors should share the burden

The financial crisis has taken a heavy toll on government finances and taxpayers are still footing the bill. Could private investors do more to help out? Mohamed El-Erian, CEO and co-CIO of PIMCO, believes they should. He explains to the OECD Observer.

Banking on a crisis and on its resolution

The recent financial crisis has left a hole in the public finances of many countries. Yet, with the right preparation, governments may have been better placed to fund that gap. This holds lessons for future crisis resolution strategies.

Ireland: Confident of a return to force

A floor has now been placed under the banking crisis, albeit at a very high cost to the public purse.

Building our future together

We are celebrating the OECD’s 50th anniversary during the tail-end of the worst financial and economic crisis of our lifetimes. It’s a good moment to take stock and to ask the right questions. Why couldn’t we avoid the crisis? Were the policies and the policy mix we promoted the right ones, and how can we adjust these polices to new realities? What is more, are we doing enough to prevent another crisis? Are our economic theories, our models and our assumptions still appropriate? How should our organisation’s work be adapted so that we continue fulfilling our founding mission of promoting better policies for better lives?

Better measures for better lives

The OECD, a pioneer in the quest to measure the progress and well-being of societies, is launching an exciting new initiative, incorporating Your Better Life Index. The initiative is not only a major step forward in assessing people’s true welfare, but involves people in the process too.

Finance ministers' roundtable

The budget deficit for the OECD area as a whole probably peaked at around 7.5% of GDP in 2010. That’s the equivalent of some US$3.3 trillion. A decrease to around 6.1% of GDP is expected in 2011, which will still be high by historical standards. But while the need to restore public finances is a global challenge, the state of government balance sheets varies widely. Economic starting points, causes of deficits and budgetary strategies also vary. Some countries have started down the road of austerity, others are maintaining stimulus and plan to rein in their deficits from 2011.

In December 2010 we asked finance ministers from a broad selection of countries facing different fiscal challenges–France, Germany, Indonesia, Ireland, Korea, Mexico, New Zealand and South Africa–to answer this question: “What actions is your government taking to bolster public finances, while upholding growth and services?”