OECD | Explaining the Economic and Development Organization


The OECD is a quiet little organization of 31 countries that wields surprising power. Image from Flickr.

The OECD, or Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, isn’t a group Americans usually hear much about. The OECD, though, is an important player in international economic and political policy. The OECD does several things including forecast growth, suggest interest rates and provide development assistance to member and non-member countries.

OECD tackles a wide range of issues

The OECD is an organization with several committees that focus on a wide variety of world issues. There are 200 committees, working groups and groups of experts. There are also nine “special bodies” within the OECD. These special bodies include the International Energy Agency and Nuclear Energy Agency as well as a special body designed to provide semi-unsecured loans to African countries.

History of the OECD

The OECD was founded in 1961 as a successor to the OEEC — Organization for European Economic Cooperation. The OEEC had been created as a framework to administer the Marshall Plan for re-constructing Europe after World War II. Since 1961, the OECD has been enlarged and reformed a few times. Currently, the OECD has 31 member states. The OECD describes itself as “a forum of countries committed to democracy and the market economy.” The OECD operates mostly with “soft law” recommendations and suggestions, though occasionally OECD recommendations are rolled into binding international treaties.

OECD Economic Outlook

Published twice a year, the OECD Economic Outlook is one of the most closely-watched reports of the organization. The most recently published OECD Economic Outlook report projected a rise in combined GDP of the 31 member countries for 2010 and 2011. For 2010, the European area is expected to grow about 1.2 percent, Japan by 3 percent and the U.S. by 3.2 percent. The report, however, is not entirely rosy. The OECD report warns of a boom-and-bust scenario that could be spurred on by inflation and economic overheating. Even with these concerns, the OECD report is an improvement compared to the November 2009 Economic Outlook report.

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