Thursday, May 22, 2008

CGD's The Growth Report 2008

The Commission on Growth & Development (CGD) has released The Growth Report: Strategies for Sustained Growth and Inclusive Development, arguing that developing countries can achieve fast, sustained, equitable growth if they engage with the global economy and have committed leaders.

Key findings:

--Fast, sustained growth is not a miracle – it is possible for developing countries, as long as their leaders are committed to achieving it and take advantage of the opportunities provided by the global economy.

--Developing countries also need to know the levels of incentives and public investments that are needed for private investment to take off in a manner that leads to the long term diversification of the economy and integration into the global economy.

--Spence argues: “The Growth Report also kills off once and for all the misguided notion that you can lift people out of poverty in the absence of growth. Growth can spare people en masse from poverty and drudgery. And with India needing to grow at a fast pace for another 13-15 years to catch up to where China is today, and China having another 600 million people in agriculture yet to move into more productive employment in urban areas, growth will lift many more people out of poverty in the coming decades.”

--Actions recommended by the Report to combat food price rises (once the current emergency situation is dealt with) include an end to export bans; more effective safety nets and redistribution mechanisms to protect people vulnerable from sudden shifts in prices; and a revitalization of infrastructure investment for agriculture. The Report also urges that policies that favor bio fuels over food be reviewed and, if necessary, reversed and that reserves and inventories be accumulated to relieve temporary shortages.

--The Report calls for establishing a mechanism to coordinate the policies of the growing number of influential countries and to safeguard the stability of the global financial system. Given the increasing economic importance of new global players, the document argues for a rebalancing of global responsibilities and representation.

--Just as the current credit crunch is affecting advanced economies, the Report also stresses the importance of a strong financial system in developing countries and argues for careful supervision of the banking sector to prevent banks expanding credit too far, and the removal of capital controls only in step with the financial market’s maturity.

--That growth is a crucial part of poverty reduction and the improvement of people’s lives. It is impossible for poor countries to lift large populations out of poverty without growth. Equality of opportunity and a focus on individuals and families, gender inequalities, and economic security, however, is critical to maintaining the support for growth oriented policies.

-- That growth is a long-term challenge that requires leadership, persistence, stamina, pragmatism, transparency and the support of the population.

-- That growth requires engagement with the global economy to import knowledge and technology, to access markets, and to generate a strong export sector – critical in the early stages of growth.

-- That growth must be inclusive. The Report highlights the importance of sharing the benefits of globalization, providing access to the underserved, and dealing with issues of gender inclusiveness. It notes the importance of infant and childhood nutrition to avoid long-term impairment in acquiring cognitive and non-cognitive skills, ensuring that they derive greater benefit from the education system and become more effective in the workplace.

-- That resources, especially labor, must be mobile. The Report also recommends a bridging of the divide between the formal and informal labor sectors by allowing export-oriented industries to recruit workers on easier terms than prevail in the formal sector but with the same essential worker protection in the areas of health and safety, working hours and child labor. It highlights the need to better manage the migration challenge and the results of changing demographics.

-- That growth requires high rates of investment, with the Report suggesting that overall public and private sector investment rates of 25 percent of GDP or above are needed.

-- That investment in education and health are particularly important. The Commission also calls for greater research into the measurement of students’ abilities in literacy and numeracy, and increased opportunities for women in the education system.

-- That money spent subsidizing energy consumption in developing countries is often misspent. Better to invest the resources in education and infrastructure. In addition subsidies bias the capital investment in long-lived assets away from energy efficiency and may negatively bias the structural evolution of the economy, the Report says.


-- That industrialized countries finance the expansion of Africa’s tertiary education to make up for Africa’s brain drain. The report also recommends that industrialized economies implement promptly the time-bound trade preferences granted to manufactured exports from African countries to help them overcome the disadvantages of being late starters.

-- In small states, the Growth Report recommends greater regional economic integration, and a spreading of the burden of public services, through partial union, helping reduce the high per capita costs of effective government. Good governance is also an important foundation on which regional cooperation and multinational integration can build, the Report says.

-- Better governance in resource-rich countries, and more balance and transparency between the returns to the entities exploiting the resources and the governments in resource-rich countries.

-- And increased investment in higher education and innovation as economies transition from middle income to high income status.