Observations on the Evolution of Economic Policies

It was a privilege to participate in the IMF conference devoted to rethinking policy frameworks in the wake of the crisis. Highly encouraging was the openness of the discussion, the range of views, the willingness to question orthodoxy, and the posture of humility. One gets the impression that the crisis triggered the response that it should. We have embarked on a path of rethinking conceptual frameworks and policy choices in a way that will contribute to the stability of the system. Returning to old patterns, while waiting for different or more complete models to be developed and tested, would be a risky mistake. Here, I offer five thoughts stimulated by the spirit of the conference, as a contribution to the broader discussion that we all hope might stimulate further research and policy analysis. And, ultimately, progress.

A Problem Shared Is a Problem Halved: The G-20’s “Mutual Assessment Process”

The Group of Twenty industrialized and emerging market economies (G-20) has broken new ground over the past year or two. It has embraced the type of collaborative approach to policy design and review that is well suited to today’s interdependent world, where policies in one country can often have far-reaching effects on others. In this spirit, the backbone of the G-20’s “Framework for Strong, Sustainable, and Balanced Growth” is a multilateral process that includes a ‘mutual assessment’ of their progress toward meeting shared objectives. But, what exactly will this G-20 Mutual Assessment Process—or “MAP”—imply in terms of prospective actions? And what have we learned so far?

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