OECD Turns 50, Ageing With Globalisation
|May 24, 2011||Filled under Iraq Daily News|
PARIS : From post-war reconstruction in Europe to the next age of globalisation, the OECD has been both navigator and pilot of vast economic change which it celebrates with a 50th birthday this week.
Preparing for a new era with the rise of emerging economies, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development also looks back half a century to a different world.
By 1961, Europe was moving on from reconstruction after World War II and to help spread prosperity around the world, the OECD was created in Paris to help guide and oversee the next stage.
The OECD, celebrating its anniversary from Tuesday to Thursday with events looking towards new growth and new wellbeing, replaced the body that was set up in 1947 to run the Marshall Plan of massive US aid to war-wrecked Europe.
In 1961, the United States was by far the undisputed power in the global economy, the European Union was struggling to get on the map and Japan was emerging as a modern economy.
In contrast, the Soviet Union was a military colossus on weak economic foundations while China, today’s global powerhouse, was a radical, unknown backwater.
In 2011, the world, recovering from the worst financial crisis since the 1930s, is in the midst of historic change with economic power moving eastwards from the United States and EU towards Asia and the emerging economies in general. Russia is negotiating to join the OECD and China is a maturing giant.
Globalisation is a fact, for better or worse.
The United States faces enormous deficits, the eurozone is in a debt crisis and the new wealth of emerging economies is changing the balance of influence and power.
The OECD now has 34 members and the anniversary events will focus their attention on finding new ways of generating growth while protecting the environment and strengthening the position of women.
A central event will be the launch on Tuesday of new methods of measuring wellbeing, towards a so-called “happiness index”.
The OECD has been working on ways of modifying still essential measurements of economic performance such as Gross Domestic Product to incorporate other factors which determine wellbeing, such as confidence in institutions.
OECD secretary general Angel Gurria said last week that the aim was to improve understanding of what citizens want and what governments could provide.
On Wednesday, the OECD will publish its latest economic forecasts and there will be a discussion on ways of boosting employment.
Gurria warned that if unemployment were not overcome, the economic crisis would endure, noting that the biggest losers would be young people.
Among those attending the anniversary will be French President Nicolas Sarkozy and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, immediately before a summit of Group of Eight (G8) countries in Deauville, northern France.
Among other leaders expected are EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan, whose country is still struggling with the aftermath of earthquakes, and Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou who leads a country mired in a debt crisis.
The OECD came into existence through the European experience of replacing national conflict with cooperation, via the Marshall Plan body called the Organisation for European Economic Cooperation (OEEC), and separately the creation of the European Economic Community, now the European Union.
The United States and Canada, attracted by the prospect of expanding this approach globally, joined the OEEC in creating the OECD.
The organisation gathers vast amounts of data on every aspect of government, brings countries together to discuss experience and policy, reports on national economies and advises governments on policymaking.
The OECD has contributed to thinking on how the global financial system should be reformed after the financial crises of 2007-2008.
When the oil price shocks occurred in the 1970s, it set up an offshoot, the International Energy Agency, also based in Paris, to monitor energy and principally oil markets, to advise on energy policy.
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