Expert voices Vol 22, No. 01 - January 2018

Facebook Live: Responding to online questions on the global economy

Have we shaken off the latest financial crises? What’s in store for the global economy over the coming years? These were some of the questions that Dawn Holland, co-author of UN DESA’s flagship publication the World Economic Situation and Prospects 2018, responded to as the department went live via Facebook on 11 December 2017, following the official report launch that same day.

UN DESA’s Communications team had a few questions lined up on the latest economic forecast. But this was also an opportunity for the online community to share their questions with Ms. Holland on the latest global trends and what this means for them and their communities.

The latest report says that in 2017 we have had the highest growth since 2011. Does this mean that we have finally shaken off the financial crises?

“We’re forecasting the strongest growth in several years and this is partly a reflection of the fact that we have shaken off some of the overhanging fragilities from the global financial crises. For example, the undercapitalized banking systems have been largely resolved. The extreme fiscal austerity measures that have been in place in several countries have now been eased. So, with these pressures easing, we do see the world moving towards a somewhat more steady and stable growth rate going forward.”

What does this stronger economy mean for people across the globe?

“Strong economic growth is something policymakers aim for so that they can raise the living standards among the population. We are moving out of the crises mode of policy-making, towards longer term issues such as creating a more environmentally stable growth, reducing inequality, promoting investments in key long-term areas and developing resilience to climate change.”

Is the strengthened economy evenly spread or are some regions still lagging?

“The improvement in the global economy is widespread and we’re seeing two thirds of the world’s economies growing faster this year than they did last year. However, looking at GDP in per capita terms, we see several regions that continue to lag behind the rest of the world. In particular, in some parts of Africa and South America, the per capita actually declined quite sharply in 2016. This means that rather than improving living standards, they’re actually taking a step back and deteriorating the standard of living.”

Looking through the lens of sustainable development, what does this strengthened growth mean for the environment and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development?

“There are close links between economic growth and many of the sustainable development goals. Many of the goals like eradicating poverty, creating jobs, they require a stronger economic growth, so on that front it is a very welcome development. However, stronger growth brings with it higher levels of production, which brings with it higher levels of energy use, and higher levels of emissions. This year we have seen the level of global related emissions rise for the first time in three years. This is of great concern because we have this target of aiming to reach peak levels of emissions by 2020, which means we really need to see the delinking of economic growth and environmental damage happen now. We need to accelerate progress to more sustainable and cleaner energy use for developed countries and developing countries worldwide.”

As many people from different corners of the world tuned in to follow the live broadcast, they also shared their questions. Rommel Bhengra wanted to learn more about the latest prognosis for India, while Martin Bilbao la Vieja was curious to learn more about the process of preparing the report. Other viewers asked about the belt and road initiative and its impact on the global economy, while others wanted information on the latest economic forecast for Afghanistan. To learn what Dawn Holland responded, watch the broadcast here.

For more information:

World Economic Situation and Prospects 2018

Facebook Live on the latest global economy trends


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