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OECD Gurria says 'boiling anger' pushed UK toward Brexit vote

Thursday, July 7, 2016 - 20:05
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The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development warned a lack of job security and wage growth is driving political fragmentation and was one of the reasons British voters opted to leave the European Union.

[PARIS] The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development warned a lack of job security and wage growth is driving political fragmentation and was one of the reasons British voters opted to leave the European Union.

"We're at almost 10 years after the onset of the financial crisis and large numbers of people are willing to vote for some vision of change," OECD Secretary General Angel Gurria said in an interview in Paris - his first since the Brexit vote. "You just have to look around to see the fragmentation of political systems."

Mr Gurria lamented the results of the UK's June 23 referendum, referring back to an April report in which the OECD estimated that quitting the EU would drive up UK unemployment by 1.5 percentage points and cost 3 percentage points of economic expansion by 2020. To households, the result would ultimately feel like the loss of a month's wages, in Mr Gurria's estimation.

"Every day that passes is proving us right - we would love to be wrong," Mr Gurria said. "Very bad information combined with boiling anger produced this very unfortunate result."

Policy makers everywhere need to consider the "nexus" between productivity and conclusiveness, Mr Gurria said. He expressed particular concern over the situation in France, where President Francois Hollande is currently having to force through a "modest" reform of labour law in the face of resistance from his own Socialist Party.

"What has happened out there is too little to late but it's still too much for many people out there," Mr Gurria said.

While employment across developed world is almost back to pre-crisis levels, wage growth has lagged, the Paris-based OECD said in a report on Thursday.

BLOOMBERG