International Engagement at a Distance: OECD highlight
Cynthia Campbell, Director of PD&R's International and Philanthropic Affairs Division.
HUD's International and Philanthropic Affairs Division in the Office of Policy Development and Research (PD&R) continues its international work, although from a distance. One of the organizations that we work with closely is the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). HUD continues to attend OECD's biannual Working Party on Urban Policy meetings, which normally are held at OECD headquarters in Paris but are now being held virtually.
OECD consists of 37 member nations, including the United States. Its primary mission is to promote economic policy and conduct evidence-based research that addresses social, economic, and environmental issues. HUD works in tandem with the U.S. Department of State's U.S. Mission to the OECD on various working parties and committees related to housing and urban policy. Kurt Usowski, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Economic Affairs, is PD&R's delegate to OECD.
The Working Party on Urban Policy is part of the Regional Development Policy Committee (RDPC). RDPC also includes the Working Party on Rural Policy and the Working Party on Territorial Indicators, for which our counterparts at the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Commerce, respectively, represent the United States. The Working Party on Territorial Indicators provides statistics on regional economies, including the United States.
OECD continues to engage in research despite the pandemic. The organization and its researchers have posted several studies examining the effects of the pandemic and have continued their research in several other disciplines.
Recently, OECD posted the second-quarter 2020 report on gross domestic product (GDP) growth for most G20 countries, including the United States. These reports help us understand how the pandemic has affected these nations' economies. The GDPs of some countries have experienced a greater impact from the virus than others, including the United Kingdom (-20.4%), Mexico (-17.1%), France (-13.8%), Canada (-11.5%), United States (-9.1%), and Japan (-7.9%). China is the only country that has rebounded from the virus, with a growth in GDP of 11.5 percent. OCED has an interactive portal that gives additional data on each country's GDP.
OECD recently published "Coronavirus (COVID-19): Living with Uncertainty." This interim report reviews the status of OECD countries in their recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. The report notes that the "economic outlook remains exceptionally uncertain, with the COVID-19 pandemic continuing to exert a substantial toll on economies and society." The report gives statistics on GDP and private consumption throughout the pandemic. These reports offer vital insight into how other countries are handling the pandemic and allows our researchers to compare the effects of the pandemic on different countries.
Another recently published report from OECD, "Housing and Inclusive Growth," states that, for most people, housing is both their largest budget item and their main route to building wealth; however, it is also their largest source of debt. The report reviews how the pandemic has affected housing, including how the governments of OECD countries have addressed the issue of emergency housing. The report includes recommendations that support more inclusive housing outcomes and notes measures that could address challenges in national housing markets.
OECD has released several insightful publications aimed at policymakers. "Making the green recovery work for jobs, income and growth" is a policy brief that highlights how countries can create opportunities for a green and inclusive economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. This report discusses how nations that pursue a green recovery can enhance the resiliency of their economies. The brief includes an overview of recovery and stimulus policies in OECD countries as well as other key partner countries.
Another recent brief, "Responding to the COVID-19 and pandemic protection gap in insurance," addresses how the COVID-19 pandemic and the measures taken to limit the spread of the disease have disrupted economic activity in OECD countries and other nations worldwide. As noted in the study, "the vast majority of these losses are likely to be absorbed by policyholders as, unless governments (or courts) intervene, few companies have business interruption coverage that is likely to respond to these types of losses." This brief describes how private businesses and governments could support future insurance programs to ensure continuity and economic stability.
Finally, a recent OECD brief addresses something that most of us have been doing over the past few months: teleworking. "Productivity gains from teleworking in the post COVID-19 era: How can public policies make it happen?" examines the ongoing health and economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent need for teleworking. The paper discusses how the pandemic could be a catalyst for permanent change in the structure of work. The paper also describes how governments could enhance the physical and managerial capacity of workers to promote telework and how to handle the potential downscaling of office workspaces worldwide.
I encourage you to take some time to review these and other insightful research publications available on the OECD website.