Webcast: Watch the presentation of the Economic Outlook

Economic activity in OECD countries will gradually pick up steam over the coming two years, but the recovery will be uneven and unemployment will remain persistently high, according to the OECD’s latest Economic Outlook.

With the functioning of the financial sector returning to normal and households and business in a position to renew spending and investment, the main challenge facing governments today is moving from a policy-driven recovery toward self-sustained growth.

“As stimulus is withdrawn, governments will have to provide a credible medium-term framework, to stabilise expectations and strengthen confidence, particularly for the private sector,” OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría said. “Enhanced confidence could result in a faster-than-projected recovery.”


Gross domestic product (GDP) across OECD countries is projected to rise by 2.3% in 2011 and 2.8% in 2012. In the US, activity is projected to rise by 2.2% in 2011 and then by 3.1% in 2012. Euro area growth is forecast at 1.7% in 2011 and 2% in 2012, while in Japan, GDP is expected to expand by 1.7% in 2011 and by 1.3% in 2012.

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Emerging markets are expected to grow at a quicker pace than the OECD, helping to lift global trade growth to more than 8% annually in 2011 and 2012.

But uneven growth within the OECD area, as well as between the OECD and emerging economies, will add to global imbalances, which are among the most significant threats to the recovery. The OECD warns countries against taking unilateral action in response to exchange rate volatility, and says that international collaboration, notably within the G20 process, will be essential to warding off protectionism. 

The Outlook also highlights other downside risks that could derail the recovery, including the potential for renewed drops in real estate prices, most notably in the US and the UK, high sovereign debt in some countries and possible abrupt reversals in government bond yields.

Going forward, the OECD recommends that countries adopt a combination of coordinated macroeconomic and structural policies to ensure the conditions for long-term growth. Fiscal consolidation is needed to reduce government deficits and debt, while making room for future fiscal policy action. Structural reforms are needed to boost growth and employment, and to contribute to budget consolidation and external rebalancing. Monetary policy must gradually return to a more normal stance.


Watch video: Pier Carlo Padoan, Chief Economist of the OECD, says economic activity will pick up steam, but the recovery is uneven accross OECD countries.

>> Read more on individual country projections

>> Read the presentation from Pier Carlo Padoan, OECD Chief Economist

>> Read the press handout

For further information, journalists are invited to contact the OECD’s Media relations division (tel: 33 1 45 24 97 00 or email or visit