Daily Archives: May 6, 2014

Chris Giles

The world has known since Reinhart and Rogoff’s classic “This time is different” that financial crises are likely to cause persistent damage to economies. Even if growth returns to pre-crisis rates (and that is a big if), the level of output is generally lower. Persistently lower output is horrible as it generally requires households, governments and companies to tighten their belts in order to bring spending into line with the new expectations they are poorer than they had hoped.

The big question has always been by how much will economies suffer. Alongside the normal economic forecasts and recommendations for structural reform that always come with an economic outlook from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, the Paris-based international organisation has also published its latest guess at the permanent damage from the crisis and the different causes in different countries.

Every country has its own internal debate on the matter and it is often useful to have an external comparator, which is consistent across countries to challenge domestic views, which can often conclude that this time it is different for us.

First, the OECD agrees with Reinhart and Rogoff, saying: “For most OECD countries, the crisis has probably resulted in a permanent loss of potential output, so that even with a continuing recovery, GDP may not catch-up to its pre-crisis trajectory”.

For the OECD as a whole, the organisation compared outcomes since the crisis with the assumption that labour force participation, structural unemployment and productivity growth remained at the averages between 2000 and 2007. It finds a big variation among OECD countries with an average overall loss of economic output of 3.25 per cent as shown in the first chart.