Thursday, February 13, 2014

How is the world doing in policy effectiveness?

Opinion article by: Catalina Tamayo Posada (
Economics student at Universidad EAFIT, Medellin-Colombia.

Since the financial crisis in 2008, the world's economy has been in a constant state of change. While developed economies are struggling to maintain the levels of growth they had before the crisis, emerging and developing economies , in general, have been more effective smoothing the crisis effects in their economies.
This event has generated among the countries a sense of nonconformity towards the current monetary and financial system. “In 2008 and 2009, policymakers of several economically powerful countries had called for urgent reforms of the international monetary and financial system. However, since then, the momentum in pushing for the reform has all but disappeared from the international agenda. Consequently, the outlook for the world economy and for the global environment for development continues to be highly uncertain” (UNCTAD 2013:1). Clearly, there is a need of structural reforms for the purpose of improving economic performance in the international field.
The urgency of creating policies, in order to permeate the negative effect of the crisis, has led to the implementation of policies that have not been truly effective whether because they were designed from a merely economic perspective or because they were not addressed to attack the real causes of the crisis. According to Elinor Ostrom (1999:4), Nobel Prize in Economics in 2009, “Few policy situations are simple. Most involve knowledge from many different perspectives, activities are organized at multiple levels, and any given policy situation overlaps with other policy situations so that activities in one situation affect activities in another. No single discipline addresses all the issues that humans address when they interact in complex social situations. In order to understand what is actually going on in a policy area, as well as how things might proceed differently, it is important to incorporate input from multiple disciplines, multiple levels of activity, and multiple policy situations.” Creating policies is more than just looking at the surface of the problem, it is indispensable to dig deeper, to have an overview of the context of the determined moment and to try to predict people's reaction to that policy based on their culture, history, education levels, etc. (because ultimately is in them where relies the real end result).
Another considerable item for policymaker to keep in mind is that replicating models that worked in other countries won't necessarily work everywhere. Precisely because people's motivations and interests are different all across the world. “All policy situations are governed, for better or for ill, by institutional arrangements that are specific to the demands of a particular time, place, and people” (Ostrom, 1999:5).
Effective structural reforms to the international system are far from being a reality if all causes of the current crisis are not taken into account. Countries should not focus on conceiving several policies that do not have any long-term effects, but on designing some that can actually lead to economic growth and, of course, to sustainable development. There is still a long way to go.


Ostrom, Elinor (1999). An Institutional Framework for Policy Analysis and Design. Available in:

UNCTAD. (2013). Trade and development report, 2013. Nueva York y Ginebra: Naciones Unidas.

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