Unlike many other European countries, Italy still has not restored economic growth to its pre-crisis level – a fundamental failing that lies at the heart of many of its political problems. Now that a new anti-establishment government is taking power, it remains to be seen if the economy will be remade, or broken further.
With the entire global economy becoming inextricably linked to the Internet and digital technologies, stronger regulation is more important than ever. But if that regulation is fragmented, clumsy, heavy-handed, or inconsistent, the consequences for economic integration – and, in turn, prosperity – could be severe.
While there is no shortage of challenges facing economies and societies today, they should not be allowed to obscure positive long-term trends. The best remedies for undue pessimism are practical: effective fact-based policymaking, shaped by scientific inquiry and social solidarity.
Several positive macroeconomic trends suggest that the global economy could finally be in a position to achieve sustained and inclusive growth. But whether that happens will depend on whether governments can muster a more forceful response to changing economic and technological conditions.
The global economy will confront serious challenges in the months and years ahead, and looming in the background is a mountain of debt that makes markets nervous – and that thus increases the system's vulnerability to destabilizing shocks. Yet the baseline scenario seems to be one of continuity, with no obvious convulsions on the horizon.
China’s success in the next five years will depend largely on how well the government manages the tensions underlying its complex agenda. In particular, China’s leaders will need to balance a muscular Communist Party, setting standards and protecting the public interest, with an empowered market, driving the economy into the future.
Rigorous research on the causes and consequences of unequally distributed growth is necessary to identify solutions. But the best analysis means little in the absence of hands-on consensus-building and political engagement.
As China's domestic market continues to grow, so, too, does its economic power and ability to set global rules. With the country fast approaching a position similar to that of the US and Europe after World War II, much will depend on the policies it pursues in two key areas.
The world’s major economies are experiencing a steady recovery, and financial markets are showing no signs of convulsion, even as monetary stimulus is gradually withdrawn. This is all the more remarkable when one considers the sharp increase in risk stemming from profound political dysfunction.
Because changing technologies and trade patterns can be both beneficial and disruptive, countries must strike a balance between the abstract principle of openness and concrete measures to limit their negative impact. To this end, policymakers should be mindful of not just how but when they implement structural reforms.