OECD Journal: Financial Market Trends

  • Discontinued

The articles in Financial Market Trends focus on trends, structural issues and developments in financial markets and the financial sector.


Infrastructure versus other investments in the global economy and stagnation hypotheses

What do company data tell us?

This paper uses data drawn from 10 000 global companies in 75 advanced and emerging countries to look at trends in infrastructure and other non-financial industries in light of the talk of stagnation. There appears to be a twin paradox in the global economy: some companies and industries are possibly over-investing, driving down returns on equity (ROEs) versus the cost of capital and creating margin pressure globally, while others carry out too little long-term investment in favour of buybacks and the accumulation of cash. This pattern is associated with a shift in the centre of gravity of world economic activity towards emerging markets. Most of the over-investment appears to be occurring in the extremely strong growth of emerging market sales and investment in non-infrastructure companies, much of which is being financed from rapidly growing debt since the financial crisis. Global value chains, emerging market policies of financial repression, low interest rates, taxation incentives, natural resource endowments and other factors determine where investment is stronger and where it is restrained. Potential problems of debt-financed over-investment in non-infrastructure industries in emerging markets and the incentives for buybacks are identified as major policy issues that need to be addressed if sustainable growth is to be achieved. Evidence on the role of causal factors (sales, GDP, the return on equity, the cost of equity and debt and a measure of financial openness) on corporate capital spending is presented. Finally some policy recommendations are made.

JEL classification: F21, G15, G18, G23

Keywords: Global economy, infrastructure, investment, listed companies


This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a Success
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error