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  • Publication Date: 05-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: The economic downturn in the Netherlands, like the boom that preceded it, has been more marked than in most other European countries. This is partly attributable to greater exposure to international trade, especially with the US, and to greater sensitivity to international stock price movements. But there are also some structural policies – pension fund regulation, housing and wage setting institutions – that have undermined economic efficiency and contributed to the amplitude of the cycle. Furthermore there has been a marked deterioration in public finances, part of which is structural. Longer term growth trends too are unfavourable. In view of these developments, the main challenges are to reform those policies that have reduced efficiency and increased volatility, put public finances on a sustainable path, and, most importantly, increase trend growth by increasing both employment and productivity.
  • Topic: Agriculture, Economics, Environment, Human Rights, International Organization, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Europe, Netherlands
  • Publication Date: 07-2003
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Entering its fifth year of existence, the European Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) has met major headwinds. At the advent of the single currency the euro area experienced solid economic growth, with unemployment falling and public finances rapidly improving. However, a number of structural problems were exposed with the cyclical downturn since 2001, from which the area is recovering only hesitantly. The challenges facing policy makers at present are both of a short-run and medium-run nature. Policy makers are currently grappling with sluggish demand. Responding to this challenge, monetary policy has been eased and fiscal policy reacted through the automatic stabilisers. However, the room for manoeuvre was reduced by lingering inflationary pressures and earlier insufficient fiscal adjustment in several member states. Meanwhile the euro exchange rate has appreciated significantly. Over the medium term, the Community has set ambitious targets and a vast programme for enhancing the performance of labour, product and financial markets. This programme needs to be pursued with vigour, thereby raising the odds of large gains in trend growth and jobs while making it easier to achieve sound fiscal positions.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Economics, International Organization, International Trade and Finance, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Publication Date: 07-2003
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: After several years of rapid expansion, the French economy has entered into a period of below potential growth, with a negative output gap opening up. Monetary conditions have been relaxed, while fiscal policy has eased excessively, provoking the European Commission to initiate an excessive deficit procedure. As uncertainty dissipates towards the middle of this year, the economy should pick up speed, reaching a growth rhythm of around 2 per cent in 2004. Nevertheless, over the medium term, in the absence of substantial reforms the ageing of the population risks threatening economic and fiscal equilibrium. Current pension and healthcare reform initiatives and plans to redress spending over the medium term go in the right direction. However, in order to ensure medium and long-term fiscal sustainability, additional policies to slow the expansion of health and pension spending are required, while efforts to raise employment rates and potential output are needed to improve the economy's ability to finance future ageing-related expenditure. Here, programmes that offer the possibility of on-the-job training should be expanded so as to reactivate young and lowskilled workers, while reforms to early-retirement schemes and the pension system need to be continued so as to restore work incentives for older workers. Ongoing tax and labour market reforms and policies to facilitate the development of high-tech and fast growing enterprises, which should help promote investment and higher productivity growth, also need to be pursued. The opening of the capital of stateowned enterprises and their eventual privatisation, and planned improvements to governance structures should help promote growth, but revenues from sell-offs ought to be used to reduce debt. Finally, in order to better manage the totality of public expenditures, the authorities need to implement reforms that can be used to ensure that all spending organisms contribute to controlling spending. Here, it will be necessary to implement mechanisms that would improve the effectiveness of measures to control healthcare spending. Moreover, decision-makers need to be more directly confronted with the long-term consequences of their actions. Initiatives such as decentralisation and the new budget framework law should help in this regard. Pursuit of reforms along all of these lines should permit society to meet the fiscal challenge posed by population ageing, while retaining high levels of service.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Economics, International Organization, International Trade and Finance, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Europe, France
  • Author: Paul Schreyer
  • Publication Date: 02-2002
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: A major event in early 2002 was the arrival of the euro banknotes and coins and the withdrawal of the existing twelve national currencies from circulation. The event has influenced every citizen in the euro area and is clearly a historic change. It heralds a new phase in forging an “ever closer union among the peoples of Europe”. In economic terms, however, the introduction in January 1999 of the single currency after determining the irrevocably fixed exchange rates of the national currencies with the euro was a more important event. It meant that decisions on monetary policy moved from national central banks to the Governing Council of the European Central Bank. This Statistics Brief highlights some of the consequences for economic statistics of the creation of the euro area.
  • Topic: Economics, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Europe