As recent economic reports fan fears and paint a dim jobs picture in the US and Europe, economists are predicting the worst economic recovery in the post-World War era. Policy-makers around the globe have put creating jobs on as their top agenda. It was also a hot topic at the World Economic Forum (WEF) on Latin America, held last week in the beautiful seaside town of Puerto Vallarta. At the Young Global Leader (YGL) Annual Summit that took place alongside the WEF meeting, President Felipe Caldron of Mexico, himself a YGL from the class of 1997, shared his vision on channeling long-dated pension assets into infrastructure investments, with an aim to create economic growth and jobs.In the aftermath of the global crisis, advanced and emerging economies diverge in many areas. The Euro zone has been dealing with banking and sovereign debt crises. In the US, the government and private debt, as well as slow-recovering job market dominate the market sentiment. India is dealing with its perpetual poverty and income disparity challenges, while uk is trying to beef up its domestic demand.In all these countries, however, infrastructure development is seen as a key driver that could create jobs in the near terms and build a platform for growth in the future. McKinsey projected that $8 trillion will be committed in Asia over the next decade to infrastructure projects to remedy historical underinvestment and to accommodate the explosion in demand. The World Bank put the annual infrastructure deficit in Africa at $93 billion.So why is a major global infrastructure expansion not happening?At a well-attended WEF lunch discussion on infrastructure investments chaired by my good friend Reuben Abraham from India School of Business, I shared with the audience some of my views on this question.The biggest challenge today is the lack of long-termism and excessive reliance on liquidity in capital deployment. Take Asia as an example. In developing Asia, the savings rate is about 37%, far above the level of infrastructure investment that is needed at 20%. Asia's sovereign wealth funds manage over $1,200 billion of assets, and government pension assets in Asia exceed $1,500 billion. However, infrastructure project finance receives very little funding from these sources. PZZ
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