What the BEPS are we talking about?
Bloomberg’s “The Great Corporate Tax Dodge”, The New York Times’ “But Nobody Pays That” and the Guardian’s “Tax Gap”: these are some examples of the wide media attention given to global tax issues in recent weeks. The public is understandably becoming alarmed, since what is at issue is how profit shifting by multinationals is eroding their national tax bases. OECD initiatives on tax policy can help.
Science and technology play a central role in our society. They are part of everybody’s life, they help to tackle the grand challenges of humankind and they create innovation and jobs and improve quality of life. Science and technology are part of our culture, and in essence define us as a species that “wants to know”–hence why we are called Homo sapiens. But do we really give science its proper value when it comes to taking political decisions?(756 words)
People looking for models of public governance reform may not immediately think of France, but perhaps they should think again. In July 2007, France launched a reform programme called “General Review of Public Policies” (Révision Générale des Politiques Publiques, RGPP). Implemented at central government level, it adopts a novel approach that could prove a useful model for other OECD countries.(308 words)
Politicians have long called on the services of public relations firms, design experts and advertising agencies to help them communicate. What impact do they have, and how has their role changed? We asked one of the very biggest in the business, Saatchi & Saatchi, for some insights.(977 words)
After five years of crisis, the global economy is weakening again. In this we are not facing a new pattern. Over the recent past, signs of emergence from the crisis have more than once given way to a renewed slowdown or even a double-dip recession in some countries. The risk of a new major contraction cannot be ruled out. A recession is ongoing in the euro area, the US economy is growing but below what was expected earlier this year, and a slowdown has surfaced in many emerging market economies.(664 words)
OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría has congratulated Barack Obama on his re-election as US president. Mr Gurría said the OECD was proud to have worked with President Obama and his team over the past four years, both on the home front and in international fora such as the G8 and G20 (our photo).(145 words)
Are you able to make sense of the barrage of opinion poll data that is currently being published in the lead up to the US presidential election on 6 November? Bruce Stokes, Director of Pew Global Economic Attitudes at the Pew Research Center, sheds light on the poll trends and assesses to what extent issues such as the economy will be deciding factors when voters approach the ballot box.(294 words)
Brazil has experienced a considerable shift over the last decade as a result of its economic growth. Social inequality has decreased and income distribution has become more evenly distributed. These tangible changes are reflected in the increased confidence of the Brazilian population. Demand is higher and priorities have changed, leading to a change in both the government and the private sector as well.(782 words)
The economic crisis has been rich in history-defining images, from bank collapses and house foreclosures to street protests and growing lines of the unemployed. In 2011 one image stands out: that of protestors “occupying” major financial districts around the world. These protesters are demonstrating against a system that they accuse of having enriched the few at the expense of those at the bottom of the economic ladder.(1515 words)
The continuity of our societies and the sustainability of our planet will necessarily depend on how we, as a collective, can devise the solutions to the paramount and multifaceted difficulties that have arisen from the changes wrought by the Industrial Revolution. In fact, if we are to successfully transform these challenges into opportunities, what we need is nothing short of another revolution. And in today’s revolution the bayonets, unquestionably, need to be green.(1008 words)
Bribery is a modern day scourge on international trade. At a time when so many people are struggling through an economic downturn, bribery is a very real disease threatening our prosperity. It poses a serious challenge to the development of economies and contributes to market failure. It distorts competition, damages free enterprise and blights business. It stifles talent and innovation and kills entrepreneurship. In many cases it is the poorest in society who are hit the hardest(711 words)
A crisis may focus minds, but it often takes more than that to believe that change is possible. Citizens worldwide have made just that leap of faith. In OECD member countries, a grassroots movement has manifested itself in the overnight occupation of public space and the exercise of direct democracy on the model of what happened in city squares across Spain just over a year ago. After those demonstrations reached Wall Street, Occupy went global and I have been fortunate enough to be involved with the movement as it developed in London.(1068 words)
“Wise men don’t need advice. Fools won’t take it,” said Benjamin Franklin. Yet, from Machiavelli through Richelieu to Kissinger, people in power have always relied on good advice from people they trust. But where should the line be drawn (rather than blurred) between influence and intrigue, cost and benefit?(343 words)
Energy markets in 2012, like the broader economic picture, are marked by significant uncertainty. From a policy perspective, global macroeconomic concerns in 2011 diverted attention away from energy policy and could do the same this year. That could have worrying impacts on policy progress, especially as recent months have ushered in record carbon dioxide emissions, worsening energy efficiency and sustained high oil prices.(932 words)
A recipe for trust
Have the policy errors that contributed to the global economic crisis been rectified? Sharan Burrow, who heads the International Trade Union Confederation, shares her vision for building trust and restoring confidence in the countries still suffering from the crisis.
The cost of mistrust
Trust is at the heart of today’s complex global economy. But, paradoxically, trust is also in increasingly short supply in many of our societies, especially in our attitudes towards big business, parliaments and governments. This decline threatens our capacity to tackle some of today’s key challenges.
How to get it right
Austerity programmes to restore order to public finances can add to the woes of already struggling economies, leading to more job losses and social hardship. But there are ways for governments to put their fiscal houses in order, while supporting growth and reducing income inequality at the same time.
The crisis affecting OECD economies is now in its sixth year, yet sizeable efforts are still needed to put government finances back on a sustainable base, while underpinning growth. At the same time, pressure is mounting to tackle the deepening social problems with policies to reduce exclusion and inequality. It is a difficult balancing act, which few countries can ignore. Indeed, the two largest OECD economies, the US and Japan, are among those countries requiring the most fiscal consolidation of all, to the order of 10% of GDP. Consolidation requirements are also large in troubled countries of the euro area and the UK.
Climate change won't wait
The European Union may be facing some difficult economic challenges, but that's no excuse for not acting now to create an economy based on resource efficiency and low-carbon development. The benefits are potentially enormous, including lower greenhouse gas emissions, more efficient use of energy and resources, and rising growth and innovation.
Economic growth over the past decades has led to improved quality of life, increased prosperity and longer, healthier lives in nearly all countries. Resource constraints are making us realise that to continue to enjoy these benefits we will have to change course towards more sustainable or greener growth.(893 words)
Frustrated citizens are asking their governments: “When will we see effective policies to support economic growth and generate jobs?” There is an endless debate in individual countries and at the international level, but policy responses to the crisis continue to appear fragmented, timid and sometimes incoherent.(938 words)
The OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises have just been updated. What are the main changes and how might they affect international corporate behaviour?(1482 words)
Why do some businesses, organisations, economies and even countries succeed in achieving their objectives while others do not? Important insights are provided if we treat each of these entities as a complex adaptive system, subject to the same processes as biological evolution.(1068 words)
How can we all learn from a crisis? Today, we find ourselves in a disappointing, if not altogether unexpected, predicament. The very governments who took bold and decisive action in the period of the financial crisis 2008-09 to bail out banks and keep financial markets alive now find themselves on the receiving end of severe punishment from financial markets. How could this be?(1497 words)
Child poverty warning; Economy; Soundbites; Slower development aid?; Japan rebuilds; Tax burden on the rise; Estonia joins the OECD; Shinier steel outlook; Cities under-served by carbon markets; Brazil and India sign OECD chemical accord; Corruption: governments warned; Plus ça change...(1520 words)
The OECD, a pioneer in the quest to measure the progress and well-being of societies, is launching an exciting new initiative, incorporating Your Better Life Index. The initiative is not only a major step forward in assessing people’s true welfare, but involves people in the process too.(1541 words)
It would be easy to think that the organisation created in 1961 was the inevitable next stage in the evolution of the OEEC, the European body originally set up to administer the Marshall Plan in 1947. But the OECD did not simply "replace" the OEEC. Nor was its creation inevitable or easy.(2119 words)
As the OECD reaches 50, it must continue to become more relevant, useful and open within a new architecture of global governance, argues Angel Gurría, in this extract from remarks delivered following the renewal of his mandate as OECD secretary-general.*(1116 words)
When Chile became the first South American country to join the OECD in 2010, the event was greeted as a seal on years of progress, not to mention hard work. Still, challenges remain, including in the fight against poverty, as Minister of Planning Felipe Kast explains in this interview with the OECD Observer.(462 words)
According to the latest Economic Outlook, growth in the OECD will reach some 2.7% in 2010. But while the global economy may be out of intensive care, it remains very fragile, as underlined by market volatility, rising public debt and high unemployment. A key missing ingredient is confidence. What must be done to restore it?(764 words)
The Egyptian government is focusing on several regulatory reform and improved governance priorities. An initiative now underway, ERRAD, aims to collect and review all legislation and ministerial decrees in the areas of investment, trade and industry. A Transparency and Integrity Committee was also formed to help establish a national strategic plan for governance in civil service. Special attention is also given to reforming the social security system.(265 words)
The OECD Anti-Bribery Convention, which entered into force 10 years ago this December, was the first global instrument to fight corruption in cross-border business deals. To date, 30 OECD member countries and eight non-member countries-Argentina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Chile, Estonia, Israel, Slovenia and South Africa-have adopted the convention.(303 words)
10 years ago this December the OECD Convention on Combatting Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Deals entered into force. The Anti-Bribery Convention requires that its signatory countries make it a crime to bribe a foreign public official in exchange for obtaining, or retaining, international business. Of the 38 countries around the world that have ratified the convention to date, not one is part of the MENA region.(1456 words)
If there is one major lesson to draw from the financial crisis, it is that corporate governance matters.(1165 words)
“The Chinese government rightly advocates firm opposition to trade and investment protectionism, as emphatically stated by Premier Wen Jiabao on several occasions in the past few weeks. As it did a decade ago during the Asian crisis, China has set itself firmly against inward retrenchment in the face of economic downturn. We celebrate this commitment at OECD.(669 words)
Pressure is mounting to arrest climate change, so it's hardly surprising that people around the world are being urged to use public transportation. After all, an overall strategy that includes getting people to give up their trucks and cars to use electric trolley buses, tramways and rail can help make a real dent in pollution, traffic congestion and greenhouse gas emissions. But try telling that to Australians living in the outback, long miles from the nearest bus station. Even most Japanese, who have access to some of the world's best high-speed rail links and urban mass transit, own some type of private vehicle.(331 words)
Mari Kiviniemi, Finland's Minister of Public Administration & Local Government©Finnish government
The global economic crisis is affecting families and communities across the planet. With regions bearing the brunt of the crisis, affecting businesses, jobs and people generally, regional policies are very much part of the solution.(2753 words)
The financial crisis and economic downturn are likely to put upward pressure on government debt. The trouble is, according to OECD in Figures 2008, public debt (general government debt, which includes central and local government) had already risen quite sharply in the OECD as a whole since 1987, from 59% of GDP to 75% in 2007. Two decades ago, Belgium had the highest public debt, but today that position is filled by Japan, whose debt rose from below 60% to 170% of GDP. Italy’s debt has also shot above 100% of GDP in the past 20 years.(247 words)
Far from being a snubbed “CSR Cinderella”, the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises are being widely used by companies seeking to be recognised as leaders in responsible business practice and sustainable development. But if governments want them to be used even more widely, then they must take action to promote them further.(1587 words)
The OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials celebrated its 10th anniversary in November 2007**. A decade on, the aim of the Convention–to fight against active corruption (offering bribes)–is as pertinent as ever.(1046 words)
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice shakes hands with OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría at the launch of a new multilateral initiative called the Partnership for Democratic Governance (PDG).The new initiative is designed to assist those developing countries that need help to improve governance, strengthen capacity and accountability, and deliver the services that are essential supports of effective government.(266 words)
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On 19 June 2007 South Africa became the first African country to join the OECD’s Anti-Bribery Convention. The still photo shows South Africa's ambassador to France, Nomasonto Maria Sibanda-Thusi, welcomed by OECD secretary-general, Angel Gurría.(295 words)