WASHINGTON, DC – As 2015 begins, policymakers around the world are faced with three fundamental choices: to strive for economic growth or accept stagnation; to work to improve stability or risk succumbing to fragility; and to cooperate or go it alone. The stakes could not be higher; 2015 promises to be a make-or-break year for the global community.
For starters, growth and jobs are needed to support prosperity and social cohesion in the wake of the Great Recession that began in 2008. Six years after the eruption of the financial crisis, the recovery remains weak and uneven. Global growth is projected at just 3.3% in 2014 and 3.8% in 2015. Some important economies are still fighting deflation. More than 200 million people are unemployed. The global economy risks getting stuck in a “new mediocre” – a prolonged period of slow growth and feeble job creation.
To break free from stagnation, we need renewed policy momentum. If the measures agreed by the leaders assembled at the G-20 in November are implemented, they will lift world GDP by more than 2% by 2018 – the equivalent of adding $2 trillion in global income. Furthermore, by 2025, if the laudable – yet not overly ambitious – goal of closing the gender gap by 25% is achieved, 100 million women could have jobs that they didn’t have before. Global leaders have asked the International Monetary Fund to monitor the implementation of these growth strategies. We will do so, country by country, reform by reform.
Besides structural reforms, building new momentum will require pulling all possible levers that can support global demand. Accommodative monetary policy will remain essential for as long as growth remains anemic – though we must pay careful attention to potential spillovers. Fiscal policy should be focused on promoting growth and creating jobs, while maintaining medium-term credibility. And labor-market policies should continue to emphasize training, affordable childcare, and workplace flexibility.