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Obama vs. Romney: Is it the economy, stupid?

Are you able to make sense of the barrage of opinion poll data that is currently being published in the lead up to the US presidential election on 6 November? Bruce Stokes, Director of Pew Global Economic Attitudes at the Pew Research Center, sheds light on the poll trends and assesses to what extent issues such as the economy will be deciding factors when voters approach the ballot box.

Taxes on personal income

See the trends in taxes on personal income for the G7 from 2008 to 2011.

Israel reports progress

Two years after Israel joined the OECD, Sharon Kedmi, Director General at the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor, is leading a delegation to an important OECD Employment Labour and Social Affairs Committee meeting on 26 October. He spoke with the OECD Observer.

Productive hours

“Work more to earn more” was former French president Nicolas Sarkozy’s refrain in his 2007 election campaign. But does working more hours mean the economy is better off?

Believing in angels

The current economic climate has put increased pressure on young firms trying to raise money and develop their businesses. Banks remain reluctant to provide loans to start-ups and venture capital firms prefer to invest in later stage companies. Now, a growing class of experienced entrepreneurs and business people–known as “angel investors”–is stepping in to fill this funding gap. Could this be encouraged further?

How manufacturing can create value and jobs

Bring back manufacturing! This refrain has echoed about since the start of the crisis: is it a serious proposition to win back manufacturing activity after years of decline and if so, how?

Towards a new departure

Two decades ago, when the first Rio Earth Summit took place in 1992, the most advanced economies were in an economic downturn. It was not as severe as the crisis many countries have endured since 2008, but asset bubbles had burst, unemployment had risen and recovery seemed a remote prospect.

Turkey’s economy

The OECD is preparing its forthcoming Economic Survey of Turkey. What issues will be examined? We asked the OECD Economics Department to outline them. Turkey has achieved strong growth in terms of GDP and employment and its public finances are in comparatively good shape. As you prepare your forthcoming Economic Survey of Turkey, what factors would you say contributed to these successes? 

Look out, not in

The crisis-induced trend towards inward-looking policies poses great dangers for Europe. 

Towards growth and a “social contract” for Europe

European leaders should shift their focus from austerity to growth, not least to fight unemployment, says the ETUC, which urges a Social Progress Protocol to be attached to the European treaties. 

Is the euro crisis over?

The new euro architecture that is to come into effect from July still suffers from shortcomings, and problem countries have yet to prove that they can survive within the euro says Thomas Mayer. It would be premature to sound the all clear on the euro crisis. 

Euro: A strategic choice

Poland is not yet a member of the euro area, though is watching the euro situation with close interest. 

Making the euro area work

The euro area has been at the centre of the global financial storms for two years. Some serious observers have begun to question whether the euro area will survive these currents. The recently published OECD Economic Survey of the Euro Area shows how Europe’s bold experiment in economic integration can be made to work. 

Globalisation and the resilience of a city

Globalisation has always been a process of far-reaching and often unexpected change, as well as geographical shifts in power, and this is reflected in the rise and fall of great cities. What lessons can we draw for the future?

Long-term investors: Getting the model right

Since the 2008 financial crisis, strains in the financial sector and in government balance sheets mean there is less and less supply of long-term capital. This has profound implications for growth and financial stability. Policymakers should take action. 

Voyage of discovery

The OECD Better Life Initiative can make a difference to policies, and to people’s lives too, though that also depends on participation. 

Protecting consumers, and the economy too

Was a major lapse of consumer protection at the heart of the subprime crisis? For consumer advocate Ira Rheingold, only better financial regulation and consumer protection will prevent future meltdowns. 

The limits to legislation

When it comes to fixing the economy, could the collective efforts of business and other interested parties be a better solution than passing new laws?

A pathway to sound economic thinking

Financial market overhang rather than excessive fiscal spending threatens confidence today. And there are sounds investments which can make society healthier.

A new vision of growth and well-being

The economic headlines may have brightened somewhat in 2012, but an OECD Spring this is not. The economic and financial crisis has left deep scars that will take a long time to heal and which will shape policymaking for years to come. 

New approaches to bring all on board!
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Infrastructure: Not just a sporting challenge

Brazil needs to invest heavily in basic infrastructure to support its expanding economy. Progress is being made, but it is a daunting task. 

Financial model

Anyone wishing to gauge Brazil’s status as one of the world’s most lucrative emerging markets should look at the growth of its financial sector. 

Brazil’s economy: Reaching new heights

Brazil has emerged as a global economic player and expectations are rising of further success ahead. But there are several tests to pass along the way. 

Expressing happiness

Increasing citizens’ input to policymaking is one of the goals of the new indicators of well-being developed to make up for the inadequacies of GDP as an indicator. Unfortunately the latter leaves out many factors which clearly play a fundamental role in all of our daily lives, ranging from health to the quality of the environment, education, housing or even social ties and security. It is therefore crucial that the public at large understand how the new indicators designed to supplement GDP are constructed and interpreted, and if possible the public should be fully involved in the process. 

Tackling inequality

The average income of the richest 10% of the population is about nine times that of the poorest 10%, up from seven times what it was 25 years ago. Even in more egalitarian countries, such as Germany and Sweden, the earnings of the richest are over six times higher than those of the poorest, compared with just over three in 1985. Inequality has narrowed in countries like Chile and Mexico, though the income gap between rich and poor is still 27 to 1, and in Brazil, which as this edition shows has implemented impressive programmes against poverty and inequality, the gap stands at 50 to 1. Clearly, the benefits of economic growth have not trickled down or been fairly distributed. 

Why does this matter to policy makers? Inequality is a critical social and economic challenge. Widening disparities weaken the structures that hold our societies together and threaten our ability to move forward. This effect has become even more apparent with the current prolonged crisis, which has been felt by a wide range of income groups throughout the OECD area. 

More...

A euro at two speeds?

How can the euro crisis unfold? For David McWilliams, Irish economist and best-selling author, the answer is probably a two-speed arrangement between core and periphery. 

The gender dividend: an urgent economic imperative

The corporate world is far from making the most out of gender diversity in the workplace. But some businesses are finding innovative ways to change this. 

In Japan’s footsteps

The global economy took a sharp turn for the worse following the collapse of Lehman Brothers in September 2008, and today it is increasingly apparent that the crisis has entered its second round. This time we are facing a combination of low growth and trouble in the financial sector, just as governments find themselves running out of economic policy options. 

John Evans
Taking a wider view of progress

Perhaps one of the biggest weaknesses in traditional economic thinking is the belief that GDP per capita is the only relevant benchmark of economic performance.
Yet, there is compelling evidence to show that increases in GDP have little impact on happiness or life chances.