Environmental Economics & Policies; Economic Theory & Research; Emerging Markets; Currencies and Exchange Rates; Banks & Banking Reform
The World Region
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Summary: Countries and international organizations working on longer-range development issues depend on long-term quantitative projections and scenario analysis. Such forecasting has become increasingly challenging, thanks to the rapid pace of globalization, technological progress, the interplay among them, and enhanced connectivity among people. As a result, seemingly isolated events can quickly lead to wide-ranging and lasting regional or even global consequences. This paper examines the problem of long-term economic forecasting in the face of increased complexity and uncertainty. With the benefit of hindsight, it scrutinizes past long-term qualitative and quantitative projections for the 1990s in order to draw lessons on how an institution can and should conduct long-term forecasting and policy analysis. The main conclusions are that policy makers and researchers across the world urgently need to see the big picture if they are to deal with the specific challenges and opportunities they will face over the long term as economies and global linkages undergo major structural changes under conditions of considerable uncertainty and volatility. Global institutions need to have strong research programs that work in close collaboration with other international organizations, academic centers, and independent experts on important long-term development issues ("blue sky" issues) and megatrends. These institutions need to build on their comparative strengths and form teams of in-house researchers and global experts who work on state-of-the-art models related to globalization, technological progress and innovations, climate change, demographic shifts, population, and labor force quality and their policy implications at both the global and country levels. Researchers should be encouraged to consider how global challenges such as financial crises, climate change, and infectious diseases can lead to breaks in economic trends and regime change and how such breaks affect economic activity. Alternative scenarios need to be created that incorporate the views of contrarian forecasters, including forecasts of possible shocks.
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