nep-ara New Economics Papers
on Arab World
Issue of 2009‒01‒10
ten papers chosen by
Quentin Wodon
World Bank

  1. When Migrant Remittances Are Not Everlasting, How Can Morocco Make Up ? By Fida Karam
  2. Aid effectiveness and capacity development: Implications for economic growth in developing countries By Sanyal, Prabuddha; Babu, Suresh
  3. Sovereign wealth funds: stylized facts about their eeterminance and governance By Joshua Aizenman; Reuven Glick
  4. An Examination of the Relationship between Food Prices and Government Monetary Policies in Iran By Shahnoushi, Naser; Henneberry, Shida; Manssori, Hooman
  5. Desert Power: The Economics of Solar Thermal Electricity for Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East By Kevin Ummel; David Wheeler
  6. Anatomy of a crisis: The causes and consequences of surging food prices By Headey, Derek; Fan, Shenggen
  7. Food and financial crises: Implications for agriculture and the poor By von Braun, Joachim
  8. Sustaining and accelerating Africa's agricultural growth recovery in the context of changing global food prices: By Badiane, Ousmane
  9. Investing in early childhood nutrition: By Ruel, Marie; Hoddinott, John
  10. Long-term Global Agricultural Output Supply-Demand Balance and Real Farm and Food Prices By Tweeten, Luther; Thompson, Stanley R.

  1. By: Fida Karam (CES - Centre d'économie de la Sorbonne - CNRS : UMR8174 - Université Panthéon-Sorbonne - Paris I, EEP-PSE - Ecole d'Économie de Paris - Paris School of Economics - Ecole d'Économie de Paris)
    Abstract: In this paper, I run a computable general equilibrium (CGE) model of the Moroccan economy to investigate the transmission channels through which remittances affect households and sectors. I give a particular attention to the investment of remittances in the real estate sector, by allowing a segmentation of the savings market. To begin with, I assess the negative impact of immigration restrictive policies and permanent migration on the future evolution of remittances. Then I ask what would be the appropriate policies to take the maximum profit from current flows. It turns out that channelling investment from real estate to productive sectors is unexpectedly harmful in terms of growth and welfare. Positive effects stem only from government ability to attract investors through an improvement in the country risk premium, and private efforts to reduce international transfer costs.
    Keywords: Sequential dynamics, computable general equilibrium model, migration, remittances.
    Date: 2008–11
  2. By: Sanyal, Prabuddha; Babu, Suresh
    Abstract: "Although adequate country capacity is considered to be one of the critical missing factors in development outcomes, a lack of understanding of how capacity contributes to economic development and of how to account for the contribution of capacity development to economic growth remains a challenge. The purpose of this paper is to provide an understanding of how capacity strengthening as an input in the development process affects economy-wide growth. In this paper, we present a stylized model for understanding the relationship between capacity strengthening and economic growth in an endogenous growth framework. Endogenous growth theory provides a starting point for combining individual, organizational, and enabling environmental issues as part of attaining the capacity-strengthening goal. Our results indicate that although donors can play an important role in aiding countries to develop their existing capacities or to generate new ones, under certain conditions, the potential also exists for uncoordinated and fragmented donor activities to erode country capacities. From the policy exercises, we demonstrate that improving economy-wide learning unambiguously increases the rate of growth of output, technology, capital stock, and capacity. Moreover, a donor's intervention has the maximum impact on the above variables when the economy's capacity is relatively low. In contrast, donor intervention can lead to “crowding-out effects” when the economy's capacity is moderately high. Under such a situation, the economy never reaches a new steady state. Our results not only lend support to diminishing returns to aid but also to an S model of development aid and country capacity relationship. " from authors' abstract
    Keywords: Capacity strengthening, Development aid, economic growth, Learning,
    Date: 2008
  3. By: Joshua Aizenman; Reuven Glick
    Abstract: This paper presents statistical analysis supporting stylized facts about sovereign wealth funds (SWFs). It discusses the forces leading to the growth of SWFs, including the role of fuel exports and ongoing current account surpluses, and large hoarding of international reserves. It analyzes the degree to which measures of SWF governance and transparency compare with national norms of behavior. We provide evidence that many countries with SWFs are characterized by effective governance but weak democratic institutions, as compared to other nonindustrial countries. We also present a model with which we compare the optimal degree of diversification abroad by a central bank versus that of a sovereign wealth fund. We show that if the central bank manages its foreign assets with the objective of reducing the probability of sudden stops, it will place a high weight on the downside risk of holding risky assets abroad and will tend to hold primarily safe foreign assets. In contrast, if the sovereign wealth fund, acting on behalf of the Treasury, maximizes the expected utility of a representative domestic agent, it will opt for relatively greater holding of more risky foreign assets. We discuss how the degree of a country's transparency may affect the size of the foreign asset base entrusted to a wealth fund's management, and show that, for relatively low levels of public foreign assets, assigning portfolio management independence to the central bank may be advantageous. However, for a large enough foreign asset base, the opportunity cost associated with the limited portfolio diversification of the central bank induces authorities to establish a wealth fund in pursuit of higher returns.
    Keywords: Sovereign wealth fund
    Date: 2008
  4. By: Shahnoushi, Naser; Henneberry, Shida; Manssori, Hooman
    Abstract: This study examines the relationship between food prices and monetary policy variables, using a Vector Error Correction Model (VECM) approach applied to annual data from 1976 to 2006. Results indicate that food prices in Iran have a long-run and short-run equilibrium granger causality relationship with money supply. More specifically, monetary policy reforms are shown to have a significant impact on food prices and domestic agricultural production. These policies influence consumption patterns and have serious implications for poverty reduction, food security issues, and agricultural growth in Iran.
    Keywords: VEC model, food Prices, monetary policy, Iran, Agricultural and Food Policy,
    Date: 2009–02
  5. By: Kevin Ummel; David Wheeler
    Abstract: A climate crisis is inevitable unless developing countries limit carbon emissions from the power sector in the near future. This will happen only if the costs of lowcarbon power production become competitive with fossil fuel power. We focus on a leading candidate for investment: solar thermal or concentrating solar power (CSP), a commercially available technology that uses direct sunlight and mirrors to boil water and drive conventional steam turbines. Solar thermal power production in North Africa and the Middle East could provide enough power to Europe to meet the needs of 35 million people by 2020. We compute the subsidies needed to bring CSP to financial parity with fossil-fuel alternatives. We conclude that large-scale deployment of CSP is attainable with subsidy levels that are modest, given the planetary stakes. By the end of the program, unsubsidized CSP projects are likely to be competitive with coal- and gasbased power production in Europe. The question is not whether CSP is feasible but whether programs using CSP technology will be operational in time to prevent catastrophic climate change. For such programs to spur the clean energy revolution, efforts to arrange financing should begin right away, with site acquisition and construction to follow within a year.
    Keywords: Solar energy, Africa, climate change, energy technology
    Date: 2008–12
  6. By: Headey, Derek; Fan, Shenggen
    Abstract: "Although the potential causes and consequences of recent increases in international food prices have attracted widespread attention, many existing appraisals are superficial and/or piecemeal. This paper attempts to provide a more comprehensive review of these issues based on the best and most recent research, and includes fresh theoretical and empirical analysis. We first analyze the causes of the current crisis by considering how well standard explanations hold up against relevant economic theory and important stylized facts. Some explanations, especially rising oil prices, the depreciation of the US dollar, biofuel demand, and some commodity-specific explanations, hold up much better than some others. We then provide an appraisal of the likely macro- and microeconomic impacts of the crisis in developing countries. We observe a large gap in the effects of macro and micro factors, and note that when these factors are used to identify the most vulnerable countries, the results often point in different directions. We conclude with a brief discussion of what ought to be learned from this crisis." from authors' abstract
    Keywords: Food prices, global food crisis, oil prices, Biofuels, poverty impacts, macroeconomic impacts,
    Date: 2008
  7. By: von Braun, Joachim
    Abstract: "High food prices from 2007 through mid-2008 had serious implications for food and nutrition security, macroeconomic stability, and political security. The unfolding global financial crisis and economic slowdown have now pushed food prices to lower levels. Yet the financial crunch has also decreased the availability of capital at a time when accelerated investment in agriculture is urgently needed. The food and financial crises will have strong and long-lasting effects on emerging economies and poor people. A synchronized response is needed to ease the burden on the poor and allow agriculture to face new challenges and respond to new opportunities. Three sets of complementary policy actions should be taken: (1) promote pro-poor agricultural growth, (2) reduce market volatility, and (3) expand social protection and child nutrition action. Agriculture requires strategic investment action, and the food-insecure poor need a bailout now." from Text
    Keywords: food security, Nutrition security, Pro-poor growth, Agricultural growth, Food prices, Social protection, Global financial crises,
    Date: 2008
  8. By: Badiane, Ousmane
    Abstract: "Starting in the mid-1990s, Africa embarked upon its longest period of sustained, positive per capita income growth since the 1960s. This growth recovery has made a dent in poverty and holds out hope that a number of African countries may reach the Millennium Development Goal targets for poverty and food security (MDG 1), if not by 2015, then within the following few years. Agricultural growth has been, and will remain, key to reducing poverty and hunger in Africa. To significantly reduce poverty, Africa needs to sustain, broaden, and accelerate its recent growth performance and boost its investments in agriculture. The recent spike in global food prices represents an opportunity that could support further agricultural sector growth in Africa. The unfolding financial crisis, on the other hand, could have the reverse effect, especially if it leads to lower investments in the sector." from author's abstract
    Keywords: Food prices, Agricultural growth, economic recovery, Development assistance,
    Date: 2008
  9. By: Ruel, Marie; Hoddinott, John
    Abstract: "It has long been known that good nutrition is essential to children's physical and cognitive development, but recent evidence sheds new light on the optimal timing of interventions to improve child nutrition and the long-term effects of such interventions. Recent studies have shown that undernutrition has a whole range of effects that impede not only children's nutrition and development in the short term, but also their cognitive abilities and productivity in adulthood, with measurable economic impacts. They have also shown that the window of opportunity for addressing child nutritional needs in ways that produce healthy, productive adults lasts from conception through age two. After that, the effects of undernutrition are largely irreversible. By addressing the large and severe problem of early childhood undernutrition in many poor countries, policymakers could maximize the effectiveness of investments designed to achieve overall development goals." from authors' abstract
    Keywords: Children, Nutrition, malnutrition, Undernutrition, Nutrition policy Developing countries,
    Date: 2008
  10. By: Tweeten, Luther; Thompson, Stanley R.
    Abstract: Global food demand is estimated from population projections of the United Nations and food supply is projected from Food and Agriculture Organization yield data to quantify the global food supply-demand balance for 2025 and 2050. The eight food categories examined account for 95 percent of global food consumption. Results indicate that the historic era of secularly falling real food prices is over. The real price of corn, for example, is not expected to fall over the next four decades at the annual rate of 1.3 percent that it fell annually from 1960 to 2006. The analysis foresees future real food prices fluctuating around a flat or rising trend. Slowed national economic growth from flat or rising real food prices may be little more than an irritant for consumers in affluent countries, but will entail severe hardship for consumers in the many countries currently troubled by poverty and hunger. Opportunities exist to expand food output by adding cropland in Brazil and irrigation in Africa, for example, but in the long term such developments will be offset by cropland removed from production by urban and industrial development, soil degradation, and the like. Although cropland can be expanded through higher real farm and food prices, higher yields rather than added cropland offer the most attractive opportunities for farm output expansion at low cost to consumers and the environment. The slowing rate of increase in crop and livestock yields corresponds with a slowing rate of increase in public and in private agricultural research and development spending. The world will not have the luxury of curtailing spending on agricultural technology and rejecting promising technologies such as genetically modified organisms (GMOs) if is to keep real food costs from rising. Productive new cropland, irrigation, genetically modified varieties, and other technologies will be hard pressed indeed to match the massive historic gains from hybrid varieties, irrigation, synthetic fertilizers, and mechanization. On the demand side, subsidies to expand demand for farming resources such as biofuels will need revisiting if rising food costs are to be contained.
    Keywords: World Food Supply-Demand, Food Prices, Agricultural Markets, Crop and Livestock Yields, Agricultural and Food Policy, Demand and Price Analysis, International Development, Q11, Q18,
    Date: 2008–12

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