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From Crisis to Recovery: The Causes, Course and Consequences of the Great Recession. Brian Keeley and Patrick Love (both OECD). OECD Insights (General Economics and Future Studies). Paris: Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. Sept 2010/144p/$19 print; free PDF.
How did the sharpest global slowdown in more than six decades happen, and how can recovery be made sustainable? A global buildup of liquidity, coupled with poor regulation, created a financial crisis that was quickly felt in the real economy, destroying businesses and raising unemployment to the highest levels in decades. “The worst of the crisis now looks to be over, but a swift return to strong growth appears unlikely, and employment will take several years to get back to pre-crisis levels. High levels of public and private debt mean cutbacks and saving are likely to become the main priority, meaning the impact of the recession will continue to be felt for years to come.”
The Roots of a Crisis. New securitization greatly increased vulnerability of banks.
Impacts on Jobs. Especially damaging to younger workers, with the risk of a “lost generation.” School-to-work programs are needed, as well as apprenticeships.
Pensions and the Crisis. Pension fund assets dropped by >$5 trillion from $27 trillion during the crisis. The largest declines in private-pension assets were Ireland 38%, Australia 27%, and the US 26%. Older workers will suffer the most.
Government Deficits. As of 2009, all OECD governments other than Norway had deficits. A chart indicates the five most serious situations: Iceland, Greece (>12% of GDP), UK, Ireland, and the US.
New World, New Rules. A push is underway for new rules and standards in three key areas: financial markets, tax evasion, and a “global standard” for business and economic ethics. Some key objectives: making financial systems less pro-cyclic al, restricting leverage (borrowing to invest), penalizing mistakes, allowing banks to fail without bringing down the financial system, global accounting standards, and banker compensation that encourages them to favor long-term growth and stability over risky short-term profits
The Future. The Great Recession will have long-term consequences; “some may not be fully apparent for years to come.” Governments must raise taxes, cut spending, or grow out of debt. However, the crisis could be a “green opportunity.” Green investments could deliver a double dividend of economic growth and a cleaner environment, as proposed in the 2009 OECD Green Growth Strategy (see Green Growth: Overcoming the Crisis and Beyond; Oct 2010 discussion paper). A rethinking of economics is also needed, especially the “efficient markets” hypothesis and the notion of “rational expectations.” The next few years will bring challenges and opportunities. “Some opportunities come along rarely. It’s a shame to waste them.” (Conclusion)
A timely overview and near-term forecast for our most immediate global mega-problem. Very clearly written for a general audience. Although not an official statement, this brief book appears to be a general reflection of OECD thinking, and of sensible policies that will be promoted in the near future.