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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  • Publication
    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.
  • Publication
    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).
  • Publication
    From Financieristic to Real Macroeconomics: Seeking Development Convergence in Emerging Economies
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2008) Ffrench-Davis, Ricardo
    Macroeconomic "fundamentals" are a most relevant variable for economic development. However, there is wide misunderstanding about which are the "sound macroeconomic fundamentals," contributing to sustained economic growth. The approach in fashion in the mainstream world and international finance institutions (IFIs) emphasizes macroeconomic balances of two pillars: low inflation and fiscal balances. The author calls it financieristic macroeconomic balances. Additionally, a frequent assertion in the conventional literature is that an open capital account contributes to impose macroeconomic discipline in emerging economies (EEs). There is strong evidence that financieristic balances have not provided a macroeconomic environment contributing to sustained growth. A third pillar must be added, linked to the productive side of the economy. The behavior of aggregate demand, at levels consistent with potential gross domestic product (GDP), is a crucial part of a third pillar for real macroeconomic balances, which has frequently failed in neoliberal experiences. Similarly crucial parts are well-aligned macro-prices, like interest and exchange rates. Frequently, these prices and aggregate demand have behaved as outliers, as reflected in economies working either well below potential GDP (the most frequent result), or overheated, with a booming aggregate demand and a large external deficit. This paper analyses alternative macroeconomic environments faced by firms and workers in the productive side of the economy (the producers of GDP), and the interrelationship between financial and real variables. The author analyzes alternative structural countercyclical fiscal policies, intermediate exchange rate policies, and capital account approaches.