Understanding today’s economic volatility

“Clouds are particularly dark over developed economies,” remarked Mr. Rob Vos, Director of the Development Policy and Analysis Division of UN DESA while moderating the special briefing on “Interactive dialogue on the current economic and financial situation” on 7 February.

The global economy faces acute uncertainties and volatility, which present serious concerns to all UN Member States. In order to better understand the structural or systemic challenges of the current global economic and financial order, and explore adequate policy responses, the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) held a special briefing in New York, followed by an interactive discussion, to brief Member States on the current economic and financial situation.

At the outset of the discussion, the President of the Council and Chair of the ECOSOC Special Briefing, H.E. Mr. Miloš Koterec (Slovakia) stated, “With growing inequality within and among countries, it is my view that the current development model needs to be revisited… Studies estimate that the global crisis has caused between 47 million and 84 million persons to fall into or remain trapped in poverty. Furthermore, prolonged unemployment affects medium-term growth prospects due to its impact on workers’ income and skills. I believe that a more inclusive and balanced growth strategy should be adopted in order to address these challenges.”

Distinguished economists were invited to share their views and insights on the current global economic situation as well as existing risks and structural fragilities, and propose various policy options for the future. The panel of speakers included Professor Peter Diamond, Professor of Economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and 2010 Nobel Laureate in Economics; and Professor Carmen Reinhart, Senior Fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics.

Discussions focused on three main areas: 1) Unresolved structural fragilities in the global economy; 2) Alternative development models for sustained growth and job creation; and 3) Global policy coordination to mitigate uncertainties and reduce risk.

Addressing the current highly complex challenges may require urgent, coherent, coordinated and systemic interventions, including appropriate policy responses. However, as the global economy appears to enter into an uncharted area, existing mechanisms for global economic governance have been so far unable to respond effectively.

Many view that the UN, as a legitimate and inclusive forum, should play a more proactive role in coordinating international economic policy-making to mitigate uncertainty to complement the efforts of the G20 and Bretton Woods Institutions.

To foster greater understanding of the prevailing situation, another opportunity for exchanging views continued today at an ECOSOC briefing chaired by H.E. Mr. Koterec. Mr. Vos presented the current global economic outlook and the related policy challenges based on the findings of the recently released World Economic Situation and Prospects 2012.

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