nep-ara New Economics Papers
on MENA - Middle East and North Africa
Issue of 2014‒11‒01
nine papers chosen by
Paul Makdissi
Université d’Ottawa

  1. Evaluation of the EU-Turkey Customs Union By World Bank
  2. Recommendation Value on an Emerging Market: the Impact of Financial Analysts Recommendations on Stock Price and Trading Volume in Tunisia By Sébastien GALANTI; Zahra BEN BRAHAM
  3. Which firms create the most jobs in developing countries ? evidence from Tunisia By Rijkers, Bob; Arouri, Hassen; Freund, Caroline; Nucifora, Antonio
  4. Piloting Macroinsurance for Microenterprises in Post-Revolution Egypt By Matthew Groh; David McKenzie
  5. Economic freedom in Muslim countries: an explanation using the theory of institutional path dependency By François Facchini
  6. War Crimes and Shifting Borders in the Middle East By Blockmans, Steven
  7. Macroinsurance for microenterprises : a randomized experiment in post-revolution Egypt By Groh, Matthew; McKenzie, David
  8. Sudan: First Review Under the Staff Monitored Program; and Statement by the Executive Director for Sudan By International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.
  9. Republic of Yemen: 2014 Article IV Consultation and Request for a Three-Year Arrangement Under the Extended Credit Facility-Staff Report; Press Release; and Statement by the Executive Director for the Republic of Yemen By International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.

  1. By: World Bank
    Keywords: International Economics and Trade - Trade Policy International Economics and Trade - Free Trade Economic Theory and Research Transport Economics Policy and Planning Law and Development - Trade Law Macroeconomics and Economic Growth Transport
    Date: 2014–03
  2. By: Sébastien GALANTI; Zahra BEN BRAHAM
    Keywords: Financial Analysis, Stock Exchanges, Financial Institutions
    Date: 2013
  3. By: Rijkers, Bob; Arouri, Hassen; Freund, Caroline; Nucifora, Antonio
    Abstract: This paper examines private sector job creation in Tunisia over the period 1996-2010 using a unique database containing information on all registered private enterprises, including self-employment. In spite of stable growth of gross domestic product, overall net job creation was disappointing and firm dynamics were sluggish. The firm size distribution has remained skewed toward small firms, because of stagnation of incumbents and entrants starting small, typically as one-person firms (self-employment). Churning is limited, especially among large firms, and few firms manage to grow. Post-entry, small firms are the worst performers for job creation, even if they survive. Moreover, the association between productivity, profitability, and job creation is feeble, pointing towards weaknesses in the re-allocative process. Weak net job creation thus appears to be due to insufficient firm dynamism rather than excessive job destruction.
    Keywords: Labor Markets,Microfinance,Small Scale Enterprise,Labor Policies,Science Education
    Date: 2014–10–01
  4. By: Matthew Groh; David McKenzie
    Keywords: Finance and Financial Sector Development - Microfinance Macroeconomics and Economic Growth - Climate Change Economics Private Sector Development - Emerging Markets Finance and Financial Sector Development - Bankruptcy and Resolution of Financial Distress Finance and Financial Sector Development - Debt Markets
    Date: 2014–10
  5. By: François Facchini (CES - Centre d'économie de la Sorbonne - CNRS : UMR8174 - Université Paris I - Panthéon-Sorbonne)
    Abstract: This article explains the level of economic freedom in Muslim countries through the theory of institutional path dependency. Islamic countries are generally not free and they have a poor record regarding property rights. To explain these realities we use the institutional history of Muslim countries. We define three steps: the Arab and Ottoman Empires when Islamic law was of great importance, European colonisation, and the contemporary era with its movement towards a revival of Islam. Islamic law is not liberal. This explain why in general Muslim countries are not free. Colonisation radically changed institutional life in the twentieth century. British colonisation proved to be better than did French or Soviet colonisation. This explains why the Persian Gulf countries are freer. The collapse of the Soviet model explains the speed of liberalisation in former socialist countries (such as Albania, Kyrgyz Republic, and Kazakhstan). Nevertheless, the twentieth century was not just the century of Westernisation. It was also the century of the revival of Islam. The article concludes that the history of the twentieth century does not explain the way in which Muslim countries are attracted by the ideal of the Muslim city. The revival of Islamic intellectual innovations and the evolution of Muslim opinion sustain this thesis. Therefore, there is a dependency on the past and on an imagined future. Islam acts, like yesterday, on the world of institutional possibilities.
    Keywords: Economic freedom ; Colonisation ; Imaginary ; Islam ; Property rights
    Date: 2013
  6. By: Blockmans, Steven
    Abstract: The summer of 2014 saw an explosion of violence in the Middle East. Geopolitically, the advance of the Islamic State and the emergence of a de facto independent Iraqi Kurdistan are the most important recent developments. Any way out of the quagmire will now require a grand bargain – one that establishes a new security order in the whole region, draws borders accordingly and offers transitional justice to the victims of the many atrocities that have taken place.
    Date: 2014–09
  7. By: Groh, Matthew; McKenzie, David
    Abstract: Firms in many developing countries cite macroeconomic instability and political uncertainty as major constraints to their growth. Economic theory suggests uncertainty can cause firms to delay investments until uncertainty is resolved. A randomized experiment was conducted in post-revolution Egypt to measure the impact of insuring microenterprises against macroeconomic and political uncertainty. Demand for macroeconomic shock insurance was high; 36.7 percent of microentrepreneurs in the treatment group purchased insurance. However, purchasing insurance does not change the likelihood that a business takes a new loan, the size of the loan, or how the loan is invested. This lack of effect is attributed to microenterprises largely investing in inventories and raw materials rather than irreversible investments like equipment. These results suggest that, contrary to what some firms profess, macroeconomic and political risk is not inhibiting the investment behavior of microenterprises. However, insurance may still be of value to help firms cope with shocks when they do occur, but the paper is unable to examine this dimension, because the insurance product did not pay out over the course of the pilot.
    Keywords: Debt Markets,Climate Change Economics,Access to Finance,Bankruptcy and Resolution of Financial Distress,Insurance Law
    Date: 2014–09–01
  8. By: International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.
    Abstract: KEY ISSUES Political Context: Sudan is embarking on a difficult national dialogue with the opposition and some armed groups in the Blue Nile and South Kordofan regions. The objective is to break the current destructive cycle of instability and prepare for the upcoming presidential election in 2015. This dialogue, if successful, could help create the conditions needed to address the challenges that emerged after the secession of South Sudan, including sustaining a much-needed broad economic recovery and adjusting the economy to its new potential. The current staff monitored program (SMP) is providing an adequate policy framework and a path in this direction. Macroeconomic situation and outlook: Tight monetary conditions and improved fiscal performance, together with lower food prices, contributed to lower inflation at end-March. However, the curb market exchange rate further depreciated against the U.S. dollar on account of the uncertainties in the oil market triggered by the South Sudan conflict, further widening the gap between the official and curb market rates to more than 50 percent. The outlook for 2014 remains broadly favorable, with growth expected to reach 2.5 percent, and inflation to continue its downward trend to about 18 percent. Program performance: Performance under the SMP through end-March 2014 was affected by adverse shocks and security spillovers. All end-March quantitative benchmarks were met, except for the ones on net international reserves and net domestic assets of the Central Bank of Sudan (CBOS). The indicative targets on social spending and the non-oil primary deficit were also missed by a slight margin. Corrective actions have been taken to ensure that these targets will be met in the second quarter. Urgent measures are needed to address the gap between the official and curb market exchange rates. The authorities have also made good progress toward meeting their end-June structural benchmarks. Risks remain large and tilted to the downside. The uncertain political transition, the volatile domestic oil market, and the fragile security environment may slow down the reform momentum. The recent peace agreement between the warring factions in South Sudan, if implemented, would improve the risk outlook.
    Keywords: Staff-monitored programs;Fiscal policy;Fiscal reforms;Economic indicators;Letters of Intent;Staff Reports;Sudan;
    Date: 2014–08–28
  9. By: International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.
    Abstract: KEY ISSUES Background: Yemen has made good progress since the 2011 crisis in advancing the political transition. However, the fledgling economic recovery remained insufficient to make a dent in unemployment and poverty, and fundamental reforms were postponed for fear of derailing the National Dialogue that was central to the political transition. The macroeconomic situation weakened further since early 2014, with increased sabotage of oil facilities leading to a decline in oil revenue and, therefore, a deterioration in the fiscal and external positions and severe fuel and electricity shortages. To address the difficult economic situation, the authorities have adopted a bold reform agenda to preserve macroeconomic stability and set the stage for boosting growth, employment creation, and poverty alleviation. They requested Fund support under an ECF arrangement with access of 150 percent of quota in consideration of the strength of the reforms and large financing needs. Outlook and Risks: Growth and other macroeconomic indicators are projected to improve steadily over the medium term as a result of the reform efforts and improvements in security. Institutional capacity constraints and/or deterioration in security or the political environment could delay reform implementation, in particular energy subsidy reforms. Such delays could destabilize the economy and necessitate even stronger adjustments later on. Policy Discussions: Discussions focused mainly on sequencing and speed of reforms in view of the large financing needs of the budget. Since the successful implementation of the RCF in 2012, there has been an ongoing dialogue with the authorities and a broad agreement on priority reforms, with differences of views on the timing and feasibility of the various reforms during the political transition. After the recent progress achieved in advancing political transition, and the increased economic challenges, the authorities have decided to move ahead with a strong reform program. The program aims to reduce the fiscal deficit to more manageable levels and reorient public spending from generalized subsidies to infrastructure investment and direct social transfers, with the objective to generate growth and employment and better benefit the poor. The authorities also agreed with staff on the need to improve fiscal performance by eliminating ghost workers and double dippers from the civil service payroll, and by increasing nonhydrocarbon revenue. Other agreed reforms aim at ensuring financial sector soundness and improving intermediation and the business environment to support growth and job creation. Other Article IV Issues: An updated debt sustainability analysis indicates that the risk of debt distress continues to be moderate. Plans to introduce fiscal federalism need to ensure appropriate expenditure and debt-contracting policies and controls. A gradual increase in exchange rate flexibility over the medium term would help protect competitiveness and reserves, and would support growth and job creation. More efforts are needed to further improve economic data and to strengthen capacity in AML/CFT.

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