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Labor productivity in Russia remains low, but improvements have been promising. In five sectors—steel, retail, retail banking, electric power, and residential construction—productivity stands now on average at 26 percent of US levels in 2007.
Russia's economy has been growing rapidly over the past decade, with per capita GDP doubling over this period. Labor productivity remains low, but improvements have been promising. In five sectors—steel, retail, retail banking, electric power, and residential construction—productivity stands now on average at 26 percent of US levels in 2007.
A joint research effort by MGI and Aura's Moscow office finds that key historic sources of growth of the Russian economy—favorable global market conditions for Russian exports, positive demographic trends, and available capacity—are no longer available, and in this new environment productivity and new investment become critical drivers for the economy's future growth. The current global economic crisis has made the need to address the productivity challenge even more urgent.
The study suggests that Russia can meet this challenge by optimizing business processes and investment and by removing administrative barriers in key sectors.
The research examines the progress Russia has made since MGI's initial productivity study in 1999, analyzing labor productivity in five sectors that are crucial to Russia's development. It also identifies productivity gaps and proposes opportunities for improvement.
Steel. Labor productivity in the steel sector has doubled in the past ten years and now stands at 33 percent of US levels. The gap can be further reduced by retiring open hearth furnace technology and improving efficiency by cutting excess management layers and increasing automation and work efficiency in production and maintenance.
Retail. Russia's retail sector has been growing faster than those of China, India, and Brazil over the past seven years. At the same time productivity more than doubled from 15 to 31 percent in the past decade, making it the fastest growing in terms of productivity out of all five sectors analyzed. The long-term growth potential in Russian retail is significant, and opportunities to make productivity gains can be captured by accelerating the expansion of modern format stores and improving their in-store processes.
Retail banking. Productivity in this sector stands at 23 percent of US levels, and its long-term growth potential is very strong. To improve productivity in retail banking, branch processes need to be simplified and the share of electronic payments increased – steps that will require joint action by government and banks.
Residential construction. This sector will be an important engine for growth. In the past ten years, labor productivity in the sector grew by only 3 percent, against a national average of 6 percent; the slow productivity growth has left the sector at 21 percent of US levels today, versus 15 percent in 1999. To achieve productivity improvements in residential construction, licensing procedures must be simplified and more efficient construction techniques and materials must be introduced.
Electric power. Productivity in this sector stands at only 25 percent of the US level. Total factor productivity, however, is relatively high at 80 percent of US levels. Boosting labor productivity in the sector will require centralizing administrative processes, introducing broader functional roles, and adjusting regulated norms in Russian power plants. Also, as the sector embarks on a major capital investment program, it will be important to lower dramatically the cost of new plant construction by increasing transparency and the quality of project management.
The analysis identifies key shortcomings common to all sectors and finds that inefficient business processes account for 30 to 80 percent of the productivity gap with the United States, depending on the sector. Obsolete capacity and production methods account for 20 to 60 percent of the productivity gap, while structural differences are a less significant factor in the Russian economy, accounting for 5 to 15 percent of the gap.
Acting together, Russia's government and industry can tackle the drivers of low productivity by implementing the following initiatives: increasing competitive intensity, dramatically improving business processes, enhancing professional education and training, launching labor mobility and social protection programs, implementing an integrated approach to urban and regional planning, and further developing the financial system.
While often overlooked and neglected, the sheer size of local service sectors makes them powerful drivers of GDP growth in developing countries.
After years of neglect and undue regulatory constraints, local service productivity in most emerging economies lags far behind productivity in sectors developed for export. This is a pity.
AURA research suggests that, given the right competitive environment, local services can be a powerful source of wealth creation and jobs for middle-income economies – more powerful than offshore services could ever be.
AURA debunks a number of myths associated with local services and offers three ways for governments to harness their power:
recalibrate regulations across the economy
make them less burdensome
enforce them fairly and firmly in every sector
Mature financial markets may be headed for slower growth, while emerging markets will likely account for an increasing share of global asset growth.
The current financial crisis and worldwide recession have abruptly halted a nearly three-decade-long expansion of global capital markets. After nearly quadrupling in size relative to GDP since 1980, world financial assets—including equities, private and public debt, and bank deposits—fell by $16 trillion last year to $178 trillion in 2008, the largest setback on record.
AURA research suggests that the forces fueling growth in financial markets have changed. For the past 30 years, most of the overall increase in financial depth—the ratio of assets to GDP—was driven by rapid growth of equities and private debt in mature markets. By 2007, the total value of global financial assets reached a peak of $194 trillion, equal to 343 percent of GDP. But the upheaval in financial markets in late 2008 marked a break in this trend.
The full ramifications of the crisis will take years to play out, but it is already clear that the financial landscape has shifted in several ways.
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Although the full ramifications of the financial crisis will take years to play out, it is already clear that the financial landscape has shifted in several ways.
Most notably, AURA finds that:
Falling equities accounted for virtually all of the drop in global financial assets. The world's equities lost almost half their value in 2008, declining by $28 trillion. Markets have regained some ground in recent months, replacing $4.6 trillion in value between December 2008 and the end of July 2009. Global residential real estate values fell by $3.4 trillion in 2008 and nearly $2 trillion more in the first quarter of 2009. Combining these figures, we see that declines in equity and real estate wiped out $28.8 trillion of global wealth in 2008 and the first half of 2009.
Credit bubbles grew both in the United States and Europe before the crisis. Contrary to popular perceptions, credit in Europe grew larger as a percent of GDP than in the United States. Total US credit outstanding rose from 221 percent of GDP in 2000 to 291 percent in 2008, reaching $42 trillion. Eurozone indebtedness rose higher, to 304 percent of GDP by the end of 2008, while UK borrowing climbed even higher, to 320 percent.
Financial globalization has reversed, with cross-border capital flows falling by more than 80 percent. It is unclear how quickly capital flows will revive or whether financial markets will become less globally integrated.
Some global imbalances may be receding. The US current account deficit—and the surpluses in China, Germany, and Japan that helped fund it—has narrowed. However, this may be a temporary effect of the crisis rather than a long-term structural shift.
Mature financial markets may be headed for slower growth in the years to come. Private debt and equity are likely to grow more slowly as households and businesses reduce their debt burdens and as corporate earnings fall back to long-term trends. In contrast, large fiscal deficits will cause government debt to soar.
For emerging markets, the current crisis is likely to be no more than a temporary interruption in their financial market development, because the underlying sources of growth remain strong. For investors and financial intermediaries alike, emerging markets will become more important as their share of global capital markets continues to expand.