©Phil Noble/Reuters

World leaders attending the UN Conference on Climate Change (COP21) in Paris know they have a rare opportunity to forge a new international agreement to combat climate change and set forth a pathway towards a low-carbon world. More ambition will be needed by all sides if global temperatures are to be prevented from rising above 2°C, the agreed threshold for preventing catastrophic climate change. But even without that target, unleashing a low-carbon future makes sense for health, costs and sustainable development.

©Bundesregierung/Bergmann

Investments are a precondition of future sustainable growth. However, investments are not just about competitiveness, but about maintaining our quality of life. As Germany currently shows, good economic numbers are a necessary, but far from sufficient, precondition of strong investment activity. On the one hand, we expect economic output to rise by an annual average of 1.8% in real terms in both 2015 and 2016. At the same time, despite a recent upward trend, public-sector investment–which often helps to pave the way for private-sector investment–is still growing relatively slowly. There is also scope for more dynamism in many key areas of private-sector investment. 

Compared to their parents, German baby-boomers are substantially more unequal in terms of long-term earnings, are subject to a much stronger pay uncertainty, and are considerably more likely to experience long spells of unemployment.

Your report on Germany proposes raising capital gains taxes on residential real estate (except for owner-occupied housing) to promote equity of income distribution and government revenue (OECD Economic Surveys: Germany, May 2014, see oecd.org/germany). 

Germany Snapshot 2013

Find key economic figures and trends for Germany from OECD Yearbook 2013

The budget deficit for the OECD area as a whole probably peaked at around 7.5% of GDP in 2010. That’s the equivalent of some US$3.3 trillion. A decrease to around 6.1% of GDP is expected in 2011, which will still be high by historical standards. But while the need to restore public finances is a global challenge, the state of government balance sheets varies widely. Economic starting points, causes of deficits and budgetary strategies also vary. Some countries have started down the road of austerity, others are maintaining stimulus and plan to rein in their deficits from 2011.

In December 2010 we asked finance ministers from a broad selection of countries facing different fiscal challenges–France, Germany, Indonesia, Ireland, Korea, Mexico, New Zealand and South Africa–to answer this question: “What actions is your government taking to bolster public finances, while upholding growth and services?”

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