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OECD Business and Finance Outlook 2016

image of OECD Business and Finance Outlook 2016

It is seven years since the global crisis and despite easy monetary policy, financial regulatory reform, and G20 resolutions favouring structural measures, the world economy is not making a lot of progress. Indeed, the responses to the crisis seem mainly to have stopped the banks from failing and then pushed the many faces of the crisis around between regions—currently taking the form of excess capacity in emerging markets. Productivity growth raises income per head, allows companies to pay better wages and it raises demand to help to eliminate excess capacity and improve employment. However, this element is missing in the global corporate sector. The theme of this year’s Business and Finance Outlook is fragmentation: the inconsistent structures, policies, rules, laws and industry practices that appear to be blocking business efficiency and productivity growth.

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Fiscal incentives for R&D and innovation in a diverse world

Public policy has an important role to play in promoting research and development (R&D) and the development, diffusion, and use of new knowledge and innovations. Fiscal incentives, including tax policies, should be directed at specific barriers, impediments or synergies to facilitate the desired level of investment in R&D and innovations. Without careful design, policies can have unintended consequences such as favouring incumbent firms, encouraging small firms to undertake less efficient activities, or creating arbitrage and rent-seeking activity. R&D tax policy needs to be considered in the context of the country’s general tax policies, its broader innovation policy mix and its other R&D support policies. More R&D activity in one country does not necessarily result in an overall increase in global innovation if it is simply shifted from another country. More research is needed to determine the extent to which R&D fiscal incentives in one country increase overall R&D, the quality of that R&D, and its positive spillovers to other sectors of the economy and other countries.

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