Every year, the international organizations such as the United Nations, OECD and the European Commission publish reports that
- although they do not specifically include forecasts - constitute valuable reference works and mines of information for those interested in the state of the world and the main trends for change.
Three reports about global economic and social development are particularly authoritative. Two are produced by the World Bank: the World Development Report (the 1999 edition will appear shortly) and a document entitled
Global Economic Prospects and the Developing Countries. They are supplemented by two other useful World Bank publications, World Development Indicators and the World Bank Atlas, which provide key statistical data.
The third report is produced by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) under the title Human Development Report; the 1999 edition came out before the summer.
Michel Beaud reviews here the 1999 editions that have appeared so far (not, obviously, the World Bank report that is not yet published).
The reports show, above all, that despite some improvements, the Asian financial crisis - quite apart from the upheavals that it caused - has brought about a slowing of growth and that, overall, inequalities (especially between North and South) have worsened.
Michel Beaud stresses that while the World Bank remains faithful to its free market stance, it cannot overlook the increase in systemic risks. A minimum of public intervention appears to be indispensable if the fine motives of the international organizations are not to become no more than pious hopes.