Project LINK : An Introduction


Project LINK is a large cooperative, non-governmental, international research consortium. It is based on a world-wide network of participants in more than 60 countries in the industrial and developing world, and it is internationally recognized as a leading centre of quantitative international economic analysis. The activities of Project LINK are coordinated jointly by the Project LINK Research Centre at the University of Toronto and the Department for Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations.

Project LINK's principal achievement has been to integrate independently developed national econometric models into a world econometric model (LINK). Initiated in 1968 under the auspices of the U.S. Social Science Research Council and the leadership of Nobel Laureate Lawrence Klein, the project has expanded from a core of 11 researchers and seven country models to more than 250 participants and 78 models at the present time for a comprehensive coverage of the global economy. The national centres of the project include universities , private research organizations, government agencies, and central banks. A further expansion of the system to approximately 120 countries and regions is currently under way.

The most important feature of Project LINK is its reliance on the expertise in modeling and economic analysis of resident economists from all OECD countries, more than forty individual developing countries, and almost all the economies in transition. Most of these groups operate national econometric models which are part of the LINK system. In addition, the Project welcomes affiliated participants from all over the world and many international organizations. The core research group at the LINK Centre is responsible for the international transmission mechanisms which operate through trade flows, price linkages, capital flows, interest rates, exchange rates, migration, technology transfers, and global commodity markets, as well as for the maintenance and operation of the fully linked world model.

In addition to its regular concern with issues related to the short- and long-term prospects of the international economy, Project LINK is a unique focal point for applied international economic research in general. Its meetings and research projects draw on an extensive network of international economic experts, both from inside and outside the modelling community. The economic analyses prepared by the group are used regularly by national policymakers, international economic agencies and private research organizations.

The objectives of the project are the following :

  • To provide a consistent framework for undertaking quantitative studies of the international economic transmission mechanisms and the effects of international disturbances, of international policies and development projects on the outlook for the world economy;
  • To improve the understanding of global economic interdependence, and the determinants of the economic performance of individual industrial, newly industrializing, and developed and developing countries;
  • To assist project participants, international agencies, and outside international economic research centres in improving macroeconomic policy formulation, implementation, and evaluation through the use of quantitative techniques which take into account global economic interdependence;
  • To evaluate the global economic implications of national and international economic policy initiatives, development projects and structural reforms within a globally consistent framework.
  • To advance academic research in the areas of international economics, development economics and related areas. In addition, econometric methods and large-scale model solution techniques are being investigated by member teams.

The operational centre of the Project is at United Nations Headquarters in New York. The centre maintains and updates computerized files and the LINK data bases, model equations and computer programs with documentations. It prepares a quarterly baseline forecast as well as alternative outlook scenarios with the model; the regular horizon is 10 years. The U.N. centre also assists national modelling centres in periodically receiving LINK forecasts of world variables and in undertaking scenario analyses.

The Project LINK Research Centre at the Institute for Policy Analysis of the University of Toronto provides the academic headquarters for the consortium. Under the direction of Professor Peter Pauly, is has been part of the activities of the Policy and Economic Analysis Program at the University of Toronto since 1989. The Centre provides research support for the U.N. operations and coordinates interactions with the national centres on all modeling issues. The Centre's primary task is the technical development and evaluation of the LINK model system. Current research focuses, among other things, on a new design of international trade linkages and the modeling of competitiveness, on the international linkage of service flows, and the treatment of direct investment flows and technology transfers.

The Centre also undertakes special studies projects on a wide range of topics. Recent studies have been concerned with, among others :

  • International Economic Volatility and National Economic Policies
  • Trade Diversification and Long-term Growth
  • Trade and Investment in the Asia-Pacific Area
  • Global Economic Implications of Multilateral Disarmament
  • The Effects of Financial Transfers to Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union
  • Global Economic and Environmental Effects of Carbon Taxes
  • Regional Trade Arrangements and Global Economic Development
  • Regional Savings-Investment Imbalances and World Real Interest Rates
  • Debt Relief for African Developing Countries

The Project LINK Research Centre is responsible for the organization of two formal conferences per year, in the Spring in New York and in the Fall at varying locations around the world. These semi-annual meetings are attended by representatives from the national centres, outside observers, and guest speakers on timely topics. Participants discuss the forecasts prepared with the LINK model as well as alternative scenarios analyzing the impact of different economic policy assumptions or hypothetical global disturbances. The meetings also include discussions of emerging world economic issues, as well as technical papers on econometric modelling and methods of global economic analysis. In addition, the Centre maintains a series of informal workshops on issues of LINK system development and modelling techniques in general.

The Centre also organizes international workshops on business strategy and policy in a globalized world economy. Based on the results from the Project LINK World Model, national and international experts address a wide range of issues, including :

  • national and international short- and medium-term economic projections ;
  • international financial market trends ;
  • bilateral trade and market share analyses ;
  • industry-based global demand and supply research ;
  • global market trends ;
  • country risk studies ;
  • corporate strategy evaluations.

In addition, LINK offers corporate observers attendance at our regular meetings.