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This paper examines the recent slowdown in bank lending that has affected several large OECD countries. The analysis begins with a description of the importance of bank credit in the financial systems of the countries considered. The origins of the lending slowdown are analysed - - including the importance of deteriorating bank balance sheets and the BIS capital rules - - as well as its potential to depress economic activity. The paper concludes with a discussion of how monetary policy should react to unusually sluggish bank lending ...

In recent years a greater demand for strengthening the role of the legislature in the budget process has become evident worldwide: more than a quarter of countries have revised their constitutions over the last 15 years to give Parliament more powers. In particular, several African countries are experiencing pressure to increase the legislature’s role in the preparatory stage of the budget process and as a check on the executive. This article argues that there are risks in allowing greater parliamentary activism, but that a greater risk is associated with marginalising the role of Parliament in the budget process. The article sets out options for designing a role for Parliament that allows it sufficient oversight, while managing the risks of ill-disciplined parliamentary action leading to excess spending or of Parliament becoming a conduit for narrow, ineffective spending demands.

This paper presents an overview of gender differences in education outcomes in OECD countries. A rich set of indicators describes the improvement of educational attainment among women over the past decades, and various dimensions of male under-performance in education. Possible explanatory factors include incentives provided by changing employment opportunities for women, demographic trends, as well as the higher sensitivity of boys to disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds. Gender differences in field of study and in performance by subject are found to be related to attitudes and self-perceptions towards academic subjects, which are in turn influenced by social norms. A number of policy options to address gender gaps are presented in the final section of the paper.
Housing markets have played a prominent role in macroeconomic developments over recent years. For a great part of the 2000s, buoyant housing markets have contributed to sustained economic activity in most OECD countries. But many markets overheated and the collapse of the US subprime mortgage market has been at the epicentre of a deep financial and economic crisis. Against this background, this paper: i) documents housing market developments in 18 OECD countries since the 1970s, putting recent evolutions into historical perspective; ii) examines the drivers of supply and demand for housing; iii) investigates the interactions between housing markets and the wider economy; iv) assesses the responsibilities of housing taxation, monetary policy and financial supervision and regulation in fuelling or amplifying housing booms; v) explores the link between global imbalances and housing booms.
Laval University is launching a series of major development projects aimed at meeting the needs of an institution that currently offers over 350 academic programmes to more than 36 000 students. This article will focus on three of the most important construction projects that are already under way or about to start: the Wood Processing Centre, the Optics, Photonics and Laser Centre, and Ferdinand-Vandry Hall. A brief history of the Laval University campus is provided at the end of this article.
French
Better financial preparedness against risk is a central part of a comprehensive approach to disaster management. Risk financing and risk transfer are approaches to planning for risks that cannot be reduced or avoided practically or cost-effectively and may include a strategy and practical measures to ensure the availability of funds for post-disaster relief and reconstruction, commensurate with the scale and frequency of anticipated risks.

Risk financing is of growing interest to a wide range of development and humanitarian actors searching for solutions to bridge a growing global post-disaster financing gap.

This report describes key features of risk financing and risk transfer, examines some of the current challenges at the contextual and programmatic levels as well as institutional challenges donors might face in engaging in risk financing and recommends a set of principles and policy approaches to guide future donor support and engagement.

Monetary policy affects activity, and ultimately inflation, in a number of ways. The most important of these is generally considered to be through the effect of interest rates directly on the demand for goods by households and firms. However, monetary policy can also influence activity through its impact on the value of assets that, in turn, will influence the behaviour of households and firms; e.g. by changing wealth and, through an impact on balance sheets, borrowing costs. Recent financial market developments may have made these effects of monetary policy more important but at the same time less easy to predict. In particular, the size of financial markets has risen relative to activity and readily tradable assets are becoming increasingly important relative to other financial assets. Prices of such assets tend to be sensitive to shifts in market expectations about the future course of general economic developments and in particular interest rates. With these changing financial ...

This report provides a comprehensive overview of the international landscape of environmental labelling and information schemes (ELIS), defined as policies and initiatives that aim to provide information about one or more aspects of the environmental performance of a product or service to external users. First, a review of initiatives and actors is used to build an institutional map of the diversity of schemes. Second, the universe of ELIS is dissected, based on a list of identified characteristics affecting the modes of communication of such schemes and the nature of the standards on which they are based. Lastly, the growth in ELIS is analysed by these identified characteristics, using a dataset of 544 ELIS introduced between 1970 and 2012 covering 197 countries.

Results from this analysis support the rapid in the number of ELIS, especially in the late 1990s and between 2007 and 2010. At the same time, these figures suggest that this growth might have slowed since 2010. The analysis also shows both the diversity and unequal growth of ELIS according to different characteristics. The growth in ELIS appears to be driven by the combination of an increase in the number of “traditional” ELIS, such as single-issue environmental seals, and the emergence of “more recent” types of ELIS, including quantitative reports. This combination highlights the tension between increased competition among similar ELIS, and the emergence of new schemes potentially less exposed to direct competition but facing larger entry challenges. The dataset also shows that the multiplicity of ELIS may not be present for all types of products and environmental areas in all countries.

These findings provide a contextual basis to look at evidence on the potential implications of having a multiplicity of schemes, and analyse the current and possible need for policy responses to identified challenges.

Concerns about health expenditure growth and its long-term sustainability have stimulated the development of health expenditure forecasting models in many OECD countries. This comparative analysis reviewed 25 models that were developed by, or used for, policy analysis by OECD member countries and other international organisations...
Climate change affects the mean and variability of weather conditions and the frequency of extreme events, which to a great extent determines the variability of production and yields. This paper reviews the scientific literature on the impacts of climate change on yield variance and investigates their implications for the demand of crop insurance and effectiveness of different farm strategies and policy measures using crop farm data in Australia, Canada and Spain. A microeconomic farm level model is calibrated to different types of farms and used to simulate the responses and impacts of four policy measures: ex post disaster payments and three types of crop insurance (individual yields, area-based yield and weather index). The strong uncertainties about climate change are captured in a set of seven scenarios covering different assumptions about the scope of climate change (no change, marginal change, and high occurrence of extreme events), and farmers’ adaptation response (no adaptation, diversification, and structural adaptation). Policy decision making under these uncertainties is analysed using a standard Bayesian probabilistic approach, but also using other criteria that look for robust second best choices (MaxiMin and Satisficing criteria).

Many African countries are benefiting from reductions in their external debt. One important objective is to redirect the budgetary resources released from servicing external debt towards poverty-reducing expenditures. Several questions arise in this context. First, are the public expenditure management (PEM) systems of African countries robust enough to allow specific povertyreducingexpenditures to be identified in annual budgets and tracked in countries’ accounting systems? Second, does the expenditure control system allow poverty-reducing expenditures to be protected from cuts should there be unforeseen shortfalls in revenues? Third, are internal and external audit mechanisms effective, so as to ensure the integrity of expenditure reports, both in-year and annually? To answer these and other questions, an assessment of the entire PEM system is required in each country. Such a study has already been prepared.1 During 2001, the PEM systems of 24 low-income countries were assessed based on a common set of 15 questions in the areas of budget preparation, budget execution, and fiscal reporting. Figure 1 shows the results for two regions of Africa (Anglophone countries and Francophone countries) – well below what is required to meet the objectives of effective PEM systems (both regions attained only about 40% of the required benchmarks)...

French
This chart compares the EC Procurement Directives and the UNCITRAL Model Law on Procurement of Goods, Construction and Services. Most central and eastern European countries used the Model Law as the basis of their public procurement laws in the early 1990s. Now that many countries of the region are candidates for EU accession, they must adapt their laws to EC Directives. The aim of the chart is to assist in that process. The EC Procurement Directives were introduced into the European Union to further the EU’s policy of enabling enterprises from all EU states to compete fairly in public procurement markets. The most important objective of this policy is to prevent discrimination by procuring entities in favour of their own national enterprises. The EC Directives support this by, inter alia, requiring major contracts to be advertised, open to competition, and awarded through transparent procedures. These conditions make it difficult to disguise discrimination. The UNCITRAL Model Law on Procurement of Goods, Construction and Services sets out procedures for the award of public contracts. It is designed for the use of countries introducing procurement laws, or reforming their procurement systems, with the aims of achieving economy and efficiency in public procurement and reducing corruption. The Model Law also seeks to promote international competition in public procurement markets. States should in general seek these objectives by advertising and holding a competition for procurements, and awarding contracts through transparent procedures.
French
The constant market share analysis framework is used to decompose changes in Spain’s share of the global market for goods exports into competitiveness and structural effects (i.e. the impact of specialisation, either in product or geographical terms) over 1996-2013. As other high-income countries, Spain has experienced competitive pressures from China and other emerging economies that have resulted in a loss of global market share. Nevertheless, the loss has been smaller than in other European advanced economies, thanks to better competitiveness. By contrast, the structure of geographic markets to which Spain exports, with a large-weight on relatively slow-growing areas and a small weight on fast-growing emerging countries, has exerted a negative impact on Spanish exports. In the same vein, the product structure, focused on relatively slow growing product lines, has not been conducive to better export performance either. This Working Paper relates to the 2014 OECD Economic Survey of Spain (http://www.oecd.org/eco/surveys/economic-survey-spain.htm).

Market Exchange Rates (MER) balance the demand and supply for international currencies, while Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) exchange rates capture the differences between the cost of a given bundle of goods and services in different countries. When undertaking multi-country analysis of environmental issues (such as climate change) that includes different currencies, a decision has to be made as to whether to use PPP or MER in the analytical framework. The distinction between them is particularly germane in inter-temporal studies that postulate future scenarios. PPPs are generally favoured for their closer link to welfare, but MERS are necessarily the basis of international trade, so it is difficult to choose between them. Some authors have noted some empirical regularity between them and have sought to exploit this to avoid choosing between PPP and MER. In this paper, it is shown that such ad hoc adjustments are not necessary when structural changes are accounted for.

This report develops a conceptual framework for the assessment of costs and benefits associated with non-tariff measures that allows an evidence-based comparative assessment of alternative regulatory approaches.
French
This paper examines the analytical underpinnings of the standard micro portfolio approach to public debt management (PDM) that aims at minimising longer-term cash-flow based borrowing costs at an acceptable level of risk. The study concludes that two technical key assumptions need to hold for the standard micro portfolio approach to yield optimal (i.e. cost-minimising) results. We argue that these assumptions do not hold in the current borrowing environment characterized by fiscal dominance with complex links between PDM and monetary policy (MP). By using the principles of portfolio theory we demonstrate that in this borrowing environment, cost-risk optimality requires the use of a broader cost concept than employed in the standard micro portfolio approach. This new concept (referred to as effective borrowing costs) incorporates not only the cash flows of the debt portfolio itself, but also those related to primary borrowing requirements. The resulting broader cost measure includes therefore the interactions with the budget. Finally, the paper demonstrates that the standard cost-risk framework of the micro portfolio approach is nested within this new, broader cost concept.
This work proposes a characterisation of the patenting behaviours of firms. It relies on patent data linked to firm data from a commercial dataset, regards firms of 20 or more employees located in 15 countries, and refers to the period 1999-2010. The way in which patent assignees’ names are linked to firm names is explained, and the coverage and representativeness of the firm database used is discussed using information from structural business statistics. The profile of patenting and non-patenting firms is delineated on the basis of characteristics such as firm size, ownership, firm age and industry, and of combinations thereof. Statistics related to the sector-specific patterns of patent renewals are also shown.
Much valuable information exists already on household economic resources (i.e. income, consumption and wealth). Indeed, the national accounts provide aggregate measures and micro sources (surveys, administrative records, and censuses) can be used to derive measures of the distribution across household groups. Over the years, however, macro and micro statisticians have tended to work separately leading to sometimes divergent results which can cause problem to users. In 2011, the OECD and Eurostat launched a joint Expert Group to carry out a study on the feasibility of compiling measures of the distribution of income, consumption and wealth across household groups that are consistent with national accounts definitions and totals. The first challenge of the Expert Group was to draw a detailed picture of the extent to which statistical information derived from micro sources can be aligned to three national accounts aggregates; 20 countries studied all (or part) of the components of adjusted disposable income, 21 all (or part) of the components of actual final consumption and 7 studied all (or part) of the components of household net worth. Results show that there are a number of identified reasons that can explain differences between micro and macro sources. Some of them were quantified and isolated showing finally that for most countries micro sources provide distributive information for most of the national accounts components but for some of them with quite significant gaps in total amounts. Overall, micro and macro totals are closer to each other for income components than for consumption and wealth components. The results also show that there is greater heterogeneity in results across countries for consumption components.

The paper presents the results of the first application of cyclical analysis to economic activity in Serbia. The analysis refers to the period 2001-07, which marked the start of democratic and economic reforms, since short term fluctuations in economic activity prior to 2001 were the result of various exogenous shocks like hyperinflation, wars and international economic sanctions. In the post-reform period, the Serbian economy exhibits characteristics of a small, open, marketoriented economy. Economic activity shows an upward trend, and with special regard to growth dynamics and their cyclical properties, cyclical analysis is relevant. In analysing cyclical fluctuations in economic activity, a deviation-from-trend approach is applied. For dating turning points in economic activity, the monthly gross domestic product (GDP) is used since the coincident properties of the index of industrial production could not be statistically verified for Serbia as there were a small number of quarterly observations available for GDP.

Mobility has been central to economic development and social progress in the modern era. There is emerging evidence, however, that personal daily travel has recently ceased to grow in developed economies. The historic increase in mobility served to enlarge access to desired destinations and allowed more choice of jobs, homes, shops schools etc within acceptable travel times. Access and choice increase in proportion to the square of the speed, whereas choice of any given kind of destination is characterised by declining marginal utility. Accordingly, saturation of daily travel demand is to be expected and is a likely explanation for the observed cessation of per capita growth of personal travel.
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