Commission on Growth and Development

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The Growth Commission’s reports identify the ingredients that, if used in the right country-specific recipe, can deliver growth and help lift populations out of poverty. The Commission, consisting of 19 experienced leaders and 2 Nobel prize-winning economists, has released several commission reports, thematic volumes, and background working papers. The spring 2010 volume is the final book from the Commission. The Commission is succeeded by The Growth Dialogue.

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    Post-Crisis Growth in Developing Countries : A Special Report of the Commission on Growth and Development on the Implications of the 2008 Financial Crisis
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2010) Commission on Growth and Development
    In May 2008, the Commission released the growth report: strategies for sustained growth and inclusive development. At that time, the financial systems of the United States and Europe were under stress. Commodity prices were also spiking, posing particular difficulties for developing countries because of the impact on the poor and on potential future inflation. But no one foresaw the full magnitude of the crisis that erupted in the fall of 2008, more than a year ago. The crisis was a destructive malfunction of the financial sectors of the advanced economies, which spread rapidly to the real economy and to the rest of the globe. Even countries far from the source of the crisis had to cope with capital volatility, tight credit, and rapidly falling trade. At the request of several members of the Commission, Commission held a workshop on the crisis and its implications for developing countries. Commission followed standard procedure of asking for help and insight from a distinguished group of scholars, analysts, and practitioners. This report is an outgrowth of that process. It is an attempt to look at the crisis and its aftermath from the point of view of developing countries. Commission wanted to assess the impact of these events, and determine if the growth strategies recommended needed major revision, or some adaptive fine tuning. Commission also wanted to think more carefully about resilience, and what it might mean for successful sustained growth. The report that follows is a summary of thinking on these and related questions.
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    Equity and Growth in a Globalizing World : Commission on Growth and Development
    (World Bank, 2010) Kanbur, Ravi ; Spence, Michael
    The commission on growth and development was established in April 2006 in response to two insights: people do not talk about growth enough, and when they do, they speak with unearned conviction. The workshops turned out to be intense, lively affairs, lasting up to three days. It became clear that experts do not always agree, even on issues that are central to growth. But the Commission had no wish to disguise or gloss over these uncertainties and differences. And it did not want to present a false confidence in its conclusions beyond that justified by the evidence. While researchers will continue to improve people's understanding of the world, policy makers cannot wait for scholars to satisfy all of their doubts or resolve their differences. Decisions must be made with only partial knowledge of the world. One consequence is that most policy decisions, however well informed, take on the character of experiments, which yield useful information about the way the world works, even if they do not always turn out the way policy makers had hoped. It is good to recognize this fact, if only so that policy makers can be quick to spot failures and learn from mistakes. In principle, a commission on growth could have confined its attention to income per person, setting aside the question of how income is distributed. But this commission chose otherwise. It recognized that growth is not synonymous with development. To contribute significantly to social progress, growth must lift everyone's sights and improve the living standards of a broad swath of society. The Commission has no truck with the view that growth only enriches the few, leaving poverty undisturbed and social ills untouched.
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    Globalization and Growth - Implications for a Post-Crisis World : Commission on Growth and Development
    (World Bank, 2010) Spence, Michael ; Leipziger, Danny
    The commission on growth and development was established in April 2006 as a response to two observations. While the author felt that the benefits of growth were not fully appreciated, the author recognized that the causes of growth were not fully understood. Growth is often overlooked and underrated as an instrument for tackling the world's most pressing problems, such as poverty, illiteracy, income inequality, unemployment, and pollution. At the same time, understanding of economic growth is less definitive than commonly thought, even though advice sometimes has been given to developing countries with greater confidence than perhaps the state of our knowledge will justify. Consequently, the commission's mandate was to 'take stock of the state of theoretical and empirical knowledge on economic growth with a view to drawing implications for policy for the current and next generation of policy makers.' This mandate has even more significance in the aftermath of the financial and economic crisis of 2008. As developing countries seek to repair the damage to their economies and to re-launch themselves on a sustained high-growth path, there has never been a greater need for fresh new ideas and approaches to achieving sustained high growth. There has been no dearth of commentary about what the crisis may mean, but in reality, until the bottom has been reached and the path to recovery is clear, it will be difficult to draw general lessons for the future. This collection of essays encompasses a variety of viewpoints and covers both medium- and long-term policy issues. It is said that more textbooks have become obsolete in 2009 than in any year since the great depression. As a corollary, much has been written that is worth reviewing in a volume on globalization. The papers look at the issue of globalization from diverse points of view and add insights and perspective to the recommendations of the growth report.
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    Growth Challenges for Latin America: What Has Happened, Why, and How to Reform the Reforms
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2009) Ffrench-Davis, Ricardo
    Latin America faces the twin challenges of achieving economic growth and reducing extreme inequality. Notwithstanding the heterogeneity among Latin American countries (LACs), most of them exhibit both: (i) low average Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth; and (ii) increased inequality during the 1980s. This long period includes the 'lost decade,' when outcomes in both variables were evidently negative. These negative trends have persisted since the early 1990s, in the period of intense reforms under the Washington consensus. The development gap (difference in GDP per capita or per worker between rich countries and LACs) and the equity gap have broadened in this period. The report evaluate: (a) the macroeconomic environment in which agents make their decisions (usually in LACs, under an economic activity operating significantly below potential GDP, with outlier macro-prices, and fluctuating aggregate demand); (b) features of financial reforms (usually intensive in short-term segments and weak financing of risk and long-term financing), and their implications for capital formation and the distribution of opportunities in the domestic economy; (c) features of trade reforms (intensive in resource-based exports but low total output of tradable); and (d) the distribution of productivities, which is closely linked to the narrow space granted for the development of small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
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    Chile's Growth and Development: Leadership, Policy-Making Process, Policies, and Results
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2009) Schmidt-Hebbel, Klaus
    This paper analyzes the relations between leadership, the policy making process, policies and institutions, and development results in Chile. It starts with a stylized model for the dynamics of development that derives a Kuznets type relation between growth and distribution of income, determined by the quality of leadership, the policy making process, institutions, and policies. This framework is applied to Chile, identifying the features of the policy making process and leadership that allowed for continuation of growth enhancing reform, with a stronger focus on equity goals, since the transition to democracy. As a result of three decades of reforms, Chile has recorded a quantum leap in economic growth, which is traced down to specific reforms. Yet Chile's equity experience is much more mixed: poverty has declined massively but income remains highly concentrated, a likely result of shortcomings in the quality of education and in labor markets. The paper reviews the major risks to the country's future development pace and points out the main reform challenges faced by policy makers.
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    Africa's Growth Turnaround: From Fewer Mistakes to Sustained Growth
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2009) Page, John
    After stagnating for much of its postcolonial history, economic performance in Sub?Saharan Africa has markedly improved. Since 1995, average economic growth has been close to 5 percent per year. Has Africa finally turned the corner? This paper analyzes growth accelerations and decelerations-that is, country level deviations from long?run trend growth. Seen from this perspective, Africa's record of slow and volatile growth reflects a pattern of offsetting accelerations and declines, and much of the improvement in economic performance in Africa post 1995 turns out to be due to a substantial reduction in the frequency and severity of growth decelerations. The fall in economic declines since 1995 is largely due to better macroeconomic policies, but changes in such 'growth determinants' as investment, export diversification, and productivity have not accompanied the growth boom. Lack of change in these variables and the significant role played by natural resources in sparking growth accelerations suggest that Africa's growth recovery was fragile, even before the recent global economic crisis. The paper concludes by setting out four elements of a strategy that can help move Africa from fewer mistakes to sustained growth: managing natural resources better, pushing nontraditional exports, building the African private sector, and creating new skills.
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    The Growth Report : Strategies for Sustained Growth and Inclusive Development
    (Washington, DC : World Bank, 2008) Commission on Growth and Development
    The report has four main parts. In the first, the commission reviews the 13 economies that have sustained, high growth in the postwar period. Their growth models had some common flavors: the strategic integration with the world economy; the mobility of resources, particularly labor; the high savings and investment rates; and a capable government committed to growth. The report goes on to describe the cast of mind and techniques of policy making that leaders will need if they are to emulate such a growth model. It concludes that their policy making will need to be patient, pragmatic, and experimental. In the second part, the commission lays out the ingredients a growth strategy might include. These range from public investment and exchange rate policies to land sales and redistribution. A list of ingredients is not enough to make a dish, of course, as Bob Solow, a Nobel Prize-winning economist and a member of the Commission, points out. The commission, however, refrains from offering policy makers a recipe, or growth strategy, to follow. This is because no single recipe exists. Timing and circumstance will determine how the ingredients should be combined, in what quantities, and in what sequence. Formulating a full growth strategy, then, is not a job for this Commission but for a dedicated team of policy makers and economists, working on a single economy over time. Instead of a country-specific recipe, the commission offers some more general thoughts on the opportunities and constraints faced by nations in Sub-Saharan Africa, countries rich in resources, small states with fewer than 2 million people, and middle-income countries that have lost their economic momentum. In the final part of the report, the commission discusses global trends that are beyond the control of any single developing-country policy maker. Global warming is one example; the surge in protectionist sentiment another; the rise of commodity prices a third. In addition, the commission discusses the aging of the world population and the potential dangers of America's external deficit. These trends are new enough that the 13 high-growth economies of the postwar period did not have to face them. The question is whether they now make it impossible for other countries to emulate that postwar success.
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    The Automotive Industry in the Slovak Republic: Recent Developments and Impact on Growth
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2008) Jakubiak, Malgorzata ; Kolesar, Peter ; Izvorski, Ivailo ; Kurekova, Lucia ; Izvorski, Ivailo
    This paper analyzes recent automotive investment in the Slovak Republic and shows how the development of the automotive industry has influenced growth in productivity and output in the broader economy. The study also discusses the motivations for automotive investment, with the country evolving from a relative laggard in reform implementation and foreign direct investment in the late 1990s to one of the region's top performers and one of the fastest-growing economies. It is argued that strong reform implementation, together with continued and credible commitment to reforms, were both preconditions for attracting automotive investments and the key factors that enabled these investments to flourish. The reform efforts were made possible by strong political consensus on accelerating European Union (EU) accession and boosting living standards. Taking into account the specificity of the industry, other aspects related to factor endowments have also played a role. Generous investment incentives appear to have played an important role in swaying foreign investors in selecting the Slovak Republic within the broader region of central Europe. Once investment in automotive production started, it contributed to additional investment by suppliers that has helped generate locally owned suppliers. These, in turn, are beginning to supply car producers in neighboring countries. All told, the full impact of the original automotive investment will be felt only over several years, but even in the early years it has been substantial. With output at the existing three producers set to reach capacity only by 2010, the impact is likely to be more substantial still.
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    Exports of Manufactures and Economic Growth: The Fallacy of Composition Revisited
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2008) Cline, William R.
    The author's 1982 article on the fallacy of composition questioned the feasibility of generalizing the "G4" (Hong Kong (China), the Republic of Korea, Singapore, and Taiwan (China)) growth model based on rapid growth of exports, on grounds that if all developing economies pursued it, their combined manufactured exports would eventually trigger protection in industrial countries. The1984 book of author identified a safe speed limit of about 10-15 percent annually for growth of developing country exports of manufactures, well below the 25-35 percent rate of Korea and Taiwan, China in the 1960s and 1970s. This study revisits this question in the light of a quarter-century of experience. It finds that developing countries' aggregate manufactured exports grew at about 10 percent annually, a robust pace but within the speed limits he had envisioned. Even so, in key sectors such as apparel, import penetration levels have exceeded thresholds that his earlier estimates would have suggested would provoke protection, suggesting the importance of increased World Trade Organization (WTO) discipline. The base of manufactured exports from poor countries remains small relative to that of China and the original G4, so there should be considerable room for export growth from these newcomers. However, a new macroeconomic version of the fallacy of composition problem could arise: the growing tendency of China and some other major emerging market economies to pursue rapidly rising trade surpluses that have their counterpart in an increasingly unsustainable U.S. current account deficit.
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    Policy Change and Economic Growth: A Case Study of South Africa
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2008) Faulkner, David ; Loewald, Christopher
    South Africa's growth experience provides an example of how contrasting growth trends long-term decline followed by improved growth pivot around political change, in this case a transition to democracy. In the decade prior to 1994, South Africa experienced the worst period of economic growth since the end of the Second World War, with growth variable and declining. The proximate causes of slowing growth were trade and financial sanctions in opposition to the Apartheid government, political instability and macroeconomic policy decisions that resulted in higher inflation, increased uncertainty, and declining investment. Democracy has proved critical for, among other factors, creating the possibility of a peaceful and more stable future and reversing investor sentiment at a basic level. Political and economic leadership have been essential for improving the country's growth performance because of the effect on policy formulation, institutional development, regulatory design, and economic vision. Prudent fiscal policy and sound macroeconomic management have been critical factors in creating an environment conducive to growth by stabilizing economic conditions, lowering the user cost of capital, and putting downward pressure on the real exchange rate. This case study provides some insight into a more general perspective on political and economic transition and some of the key macro- and microeconomic policy shifts that need to occur to realize a more rapid and sustained growth path.