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Economic Growth and Fairness in the Middle East and North Africa

2019-03-15T12:06:16-05:00January 18, 2018|

By Jihad Azour

January 18, 2018

Versions in  عربي (Arabic),  中文 (Chinese), Español (Spanish),  Français (French),  Deutsche (German), 日本語 (Japanese)

The people of the region are rightly demanding economic growth and fairness.  The IMF aims to help them in this effort (photo: Tunis, Tunisia, ZOUBEIR SOUISSI/REUTERS/Newscom).

Rising social tensions and protests in several countries across the Middle East and North Africa are a clear indication that the aspirations of the people of the region—for opportunity, prosperity and equity—remain unfulfilled. Their frustration is understandable, and precisely because of that, it would be a mistake if the economic reform process currently underway were to be thrown into reverse. (more…)

Seeking Fairness in the Middle East and North Africa: How Taxation Can Help

2019-03-27T15:16:43-05:00September 8, 2015|

Pritha MitraBy Pritha Mitra

(Versions in Français and عربي)

Aspirations for greater fairness were at the core of the protests that triggered the Arab Spring almost five years ago—and remain largely unfulfilled today. In our new paper, we show that tax reform can go a long way towards meeting those aspirations.

Taxation is a critical interface between the state and citizens. How much revenue is raised, how the tax burden is distributed, and how taxation is implemented can all powerfully affect both the reality and the perception of economic opportunities—and the degree of trust in government.

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Support the People, Not Energy in the Middle East and North Africa

2017-04-15T13:56:14-05:00March 27, 2013|

Masood AhmedBy Masood Ahmed

(Versions in عربي, 中文, Français, 日本語Русский, and Español)

Of all the regions in the world, the Middle East and North Africa region stands out as the one that relies the most on generalized energy subsidies. In energy-rich countries, governments provide subsidies to their populations as a way of sharing the natural resource wealth. In the region’s energy-importing countries, governments use subsidies to offer people some relief from high commodity prices, especially since social safety nets are often weak.

The question is: does this well-intended social protection policy represent the most efficient way to channel aid to the most vulnerable? The answer is no!

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Middle East and North Africa Face Historic Crossroads

2017-04-15T14:00:40-05:00November 27, 2012|

By David Lipton

(Version in عربي)

Almost two years since the Arab Awakening started, the future of the Middle East and North Africa is in a flux, with fledgling democracies struggling to find their way and renewed outbreaks of violence adding to the challenges the region is facing. Some are starting to worry aloud that the revolutionary path may hit a dead end.

To me, a useful way to think about the present situation is that the region could end up taking any one of three alternative paths, as far as its economic future is concerned. We could witness either:

  • Economic deterioration, if squabbling over political power prevents stabilization, let alone reform;
  • Stabilization through a reassertion of vested business interests that would offer a respite from eroding economic conditions, but condemn the region to a return to economic stagnation or at best tepid growth;
  • Or we could see a new economy emerge, as newly elected governments gradually find a way to end economic disruptions and undertake reforms that open the way to greater economic opportunity for their people.

While the first two paths would be undesirable, they could come to pass. Needless to say, the third path of transformation would be best.

No doubt the Arab countries in transition will chart their own paths. But I strongly believe that the international community also has a role in helping them avoid the unfavorable outcomes. Let me share some thoughts on how we can provide support.

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Luca Bandiera

2020-02-28T14:46:04-05:00February 28, 2020|

Luca Bandiera is a Sr. Economist in the Macroeconomics, Trade & Investment Global Practice of the World Bank, where he works on fiscal sustainability and fiscal risks. Since joining the World Bank he has worked on low- and middle-income countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East and North Africa as technical expert and country economist.

Ensuring the Benefits of Capital Flows in the Middle East

2020-01-15T15:04:34-05:00January 15, 2020|

By Jihad Azour and Ling Zhu

عربي, Français

Since the global financial crisis of 2008, emerging market economies have experienced a surge in capital flows in response to significant monetary easing by major central banks. Gross capital inflows to the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) have remained high compared to other emerging markets, but their composition has changed significantly, with a surge in portfolio flows (equity and bond instruments) and a decline in foreign direct investment. (more…)

Chart of the Week: Educate Girls and Women to Boost Equality

2019-03-13T15:16:51-05:00August 22, 2018|

By IMFBlog

August 22, 2018

Versions in عربي,  中文Español,, Français,  日本語, Português

Schoolgirls in Valladolid, Mexico: Policies that focus on educating girls increase the likelihood that they will enter the labor force (photo: kertu_ee/iStock by Getty Images)

Government policies have boosted women’s participation in the work force. But women still make up a smaller percentage of the labor force than men in most countries. Of the many policies available, such as education and legal rights, which ones provide the most “bang for the buck” to reduce inequality between men and women? (more…)

Shifting Sands

2019-03-15T13:22:54-05:00November 30, 2017|

By IMFBlog

November 30,2017

This issue of F&D focuses on the Middle East and North Africa. We take stock of the region’s rapid transformation since the uprisings of 2011—a period that raised the hopes of millions for a better future, and caused despair for millions of others.

The iron lid that had kept Arab societies artificially stable was lifted by the uprisings, writes Marwan Muasher of the Carnegie Endowment for Peace. Now, the only path to stability and prosperity is through building better institutions, sharing power, and implementing policies that will foster inclusive growth—a process that will require a new social contract between governments and society. (more…)

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