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The cost of mistrust

Trust is at the heart of today’s complex global economy. But, paradoxically, trust is also in increasingly short supply in many of our societies, especially in our attitudes towards big business, parliaments and governments. This decline threatens our capacity to tackle some of today’s key challenges.

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How to get it right

Austerity programmes to restore order to public finances can add to the woes of already struggling economies, leading to more job losses and social hardship. But there are ways for governments to put their fiscal houses in order, while supporting growth and reducing income inequality at the same time.

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What the BEPS are we talking about?

Bloomberg’s “The Great Corporate Tax Dodge”, The New York Times’ “But Nobody Pays That” and the Guardian’s “Tax Gap”: these are some examples of the wide media attention given to global tax issues in recent weeks. The public is understandably becoming alarmed, since what is at issue is how profit shifting by multinationals is eroding their national tax bases. OECD initiatives on tax policy can help.

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Climate change won't wait

The European Union may be facing some difficult economic challenges, but that's no excuse for not acting now to create an economy based on resource efficiency and low-carbon development. The benefits are potentially enormous, including lower greenhouse gas emissions, more efficient use of energy and resources, and rising growth and innovation.

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Well-being priority

A major step forward towards putting the measurement of well-being at the heart of policymaking was taken at the OECD’s World Forum on Measuring Well-Being for Policymaking and Development, a four-day international conference held in New Delhi in October.

Is evidence evident?

Science and technology play a central role in our society. They are part of everybody’s life, they help to tackle the grand challenges of humankind and they create innovation and jobs and improve quality of life. Science and technology are part of our culture, and in essence define us as a species that “wants to know”–hence why we are called Homo sapiens. But do we really give science its proper value when it comes to taking political decisions?

Vive la réforme

People looking for models of public governance reform may not immediately think of France, but perhaps they should think again. In July 2007, France launched a reform programme called “General Review of Public Policies” (Révision Générale des Politiques Publiques, RGPP). Implemented at central government level, it adopts a novel approach that could prove a useful model for other OECD countries.

Up in the air?

Taking as many long-haul flights as possible could hold the answer to your knowledge management problems.

Policy can brighten the economic outlook

After five years of crisis, the global economy is weakening again. In this we are not facing a new pattern. Over the recent past, signs of emergence from the crisis have more than once given way to a renewed slowdown or even a double-dip recession in some countries. The risk of a new major contraction cannot be ruled out. A recession is ongoing in the euro area, the US economy is growing but below what was expected earlier this year, and a slowdown has surfaced in many emerging market economies.

Ad sense

Politicians have long called on the services of public relations firms, design experts and advertising agencies to help them communicate. What impact do they have, and how has their role changed? We asked one of the very biggest in the business, Saatchi & Saatchi, for some insights.

To be changed
President Obama's victory

OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría has congratulated Barack Obama on his re-election as US president. Mr Gurría said the OECD was proud to have worked with President Obama and his team over the past four years, both on the home front and in international fora such as the G8 and G20 (our photo).

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.

Resurrecting industrial policy

Can governments play a positive role in boosting their countries’ industrial sectors?

In Brazil, better lives

Brazil has experienced a considerable shift over the last decade as a result of its economic growth. Social inequality has decreased and income distribution has become more evenly distributed. These tangible changes are reflected in the increased confidence of the Brazilian population. Demand is higher and priorities have changed, leading to a change in both the government and the private sector as well. 

Reimagining governance

Globalisation and the emergence of interlinked yet diverse civil society groups pose a serious challenge to established governance frameworks. Change appears to be the only option. 

Occupy: Some lessons for a better tomorrow

A crisis may focus minds, but it often takes more than that to believe that change is possible. Citizens worldwide have made just that leap of faith. In OECD member countries, a grassroots movement has manifested itself in the overnight occupation of public space and the exercise of direct democracy on the model of what happened in city squares across Spain just over a year ago. After those demonstrations reached Wall Street, Occupy went global and I have been fortunate enough to be involved with the movement as it developed in London.

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The state’s anti-poverty effect

Poverty rates are usually a measure of personal income. But how can public services affect relative poverty, that is, when the monetary value of public services, known as “extended income” is brought into the equation? 

Behind closed doors

“Wise men don’t need advice. Fools won’t take it,” said Benjamin Franklin. Yet, from Machiavelli through Richelieu to Kissinger, people in power have always relied on good advice from people they trust. But where should the line be drawn (rather than blurred) between influence and intrigue, cost and benefit? 

Inequality: Why the struggle matters

The economic crisis has been rich in history-defining images, from bank collapses and house foreclosures to street protests and growing lines of the unemployed. In 2011 one image stands out: that of protestors “occupying” major financial districts around the world. These protesters are demonstrating against a system that they accuse of having enriched the few at the expense of those at the bottom of the economic ladder. 

Green chemistry

Economic growth over the past decades has led to improved quality of life, increased prosperity and longer, healthier lives in nearly all countries. Resource constraints are making us realise that to continue to enjoy these benefits we will have to change course towards more sustainable or greener growth. 

From the Industrial Revolution to a green revolution

The continuity of our societies and the sustainability of our planet will necessarily depend on how we, as a collective, can devise the solutions to the paramount and multifaceted difficulties that have arisen from the changes wrought by the Industrial Revolution. In fact, if we are to successfully transform these challenges into opportunities, what we need is nothing short of another revolution. And in today’s revolution the bayonets, unquestionably, need to be green. 

Maria van der Hoeven
Energy security: looking towards uncertainty

Energy markets in 2012, like the broader economic picture, are marked by significant uncertainty. From a policy perspective, global macroeconomic concerns in 2011 diverted attention away from energy policy and could do the same this year. That could have worrying impacts on policy progress, especially as recent months have ushered in record carbon dioxide emissions, worsening energy efficiency and sustained high oil prices. 

Rolf Alter
Public governance: The other deficit

Frustrated citizens are asking their governments: “When will we see effective policies to support economic growth and generate jobs?” There is an endless debate in individual countries and at the international level, but policy responses to the crisis continue to appear fragmented, timid and sometimes incoherent. 

Mark Pieth
Don’t forget corruption

The crisis should not divert attention from the fight against corruption.
Mark Pieth, Chair of the OECD Working Group on Bribery, talks to Lyndon Thompson about the need to keep the ball rolling.

Shock proof?

Managing risk could absorb more policy time around the world in the 21st century. How can policymakers be prepared?

Multinational enterprises: Better guidelines for better lives

The OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises have just been updated. What are the main changes and how might they affect international corporate behaviour?

Taking a robust stance on bribery

Bribery is a modern day scourge on international trade. At a time when so many people are struggling through an economic downturn, bribery is a very real disease threatening our prosperity. It poses a serious challenge to the development of economies and contributes to market failure. It distorts competition, damages free enterprise and blights business. It stifles talent and innovation and kills entrepreneurship. In many cases it is the poorest in society who are hit the hardest

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.

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?