Economic Research Forum (ERF)

Adnan Mazarei


Adnan Mazarei
Nonresident Senior Fellow, Peterson Institute for International Economics

Adnan Mazarei joined the Peterson Institute for International Economics as a nonresident senior fellow in January 2019. His work at the Institute focuses on the major economies of the Middle East and Central Asia and the long-term financial and macroeconomic challenges they face. Previously he was a deputy director at the International Monetary Fund (IMF), where he worked on resolving various financial crises in emerging markets, including the 1998 Russian financial crisis. In addition, he contributed to the IMF's policy work on international financial architecture and sovereign debt issues. He helped prepare the Santiago Principles that established best practices and guidelines for managing sovereign wealth funds. Between 2002 and 2005, he served as advisor to IMF management. More recently, Mazarei helped manage the IMF's strategy and global coordination of the support for the Arab Spring countries and for the economic policy response to the recent conflicts and refugee crisis in the Middle East. Mazarei earned his PhD in economics from the University of California, Los Angeles. He has authored several articles on economic policy and a book on sovereign wealth funds.

Content by this Author

Debt clouds over the Middle East

A number of MENA countries face high debt levels. Egypt, Jordan, and Tunisia are in a precarious situation. Lebanon is already in default. These debt difficulties are rooted in persistent structural issues related to governance and regulatory frameworks and bloated public sectors. The situation has been exacerbated by global economic fluctuations, the pandemic, and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Unless reforms are made quickly, debt restructurings may become inevitable. If inevitable, it is preferable to do them preemptively, as part of a broader set of corrective actions.

What will it take to achieve an energy transition in MENA?

An energy transition will require a coordinated global shift in both the supply and demand for fossil fuels and cleaner energy. As explained in this post by the Center for Global Development, multilateral institutions can play an important role, helping to bolster international technology transfers to the Middle East and North Africa, as well as scaling up investment and trade in clean energy to facilitate the global energy transition. Given the potential in the region for solar power, MENA could remain a global hub – but this time for clean energy.

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Labour market effects of robots: evidence from Turkey

Evidence from developed countries on the impact of automation on labour markets suggests that there can be negative effects on manufacturing jobs, but also mechanisms for workers to move into the services sector. But this narrative may not apply in developing economies. This column reports new evidence from Turkey on the effects of robots on labour displacement and job reallocation.

Global value chains and domestic innovation: evidence from MENA firms

Global interlinkages play a significant role in enhancing innovation by firms in developing countries. In particular, as this column explains, participation in global value chains fosters a variety of innovation activities. Since some countries in the Middle East and North Africa display a downward trend on measures of global innovation, facilitating the GVC participation of firms in the region is a prospective channel for stimulating underperforming innovation.

Food insecurity in Tunisia during and after the Covid-19 pandemic

Labour market instability, rising unemployment rates and soaring food prices due to Covid-19 are among the reasons for severe food insecurity across the world. This grim picture is evident in Tunisia, where the government continues to provide financial and food aid to vulnerable households after the pandemic. But as this column explains, the inadequacy of some public policies is another important factors causing food insecurity.

Sustaining entrepreneurship: lessons from Iran

Does entrepreneurial activity naturally return to long-term average levels after big economic disturbances? This column presents new evidence from Iran on trends in entrepreneurship among various categories of firm size, sector and location – and suggests policies that could be effective in promoting entrepreneurial activities.

Intimate partner violence: the impact on women’s empowerment in Egypt

Although intimate partner violence is a well-documented and widely recognised problem, empirical research on its prevalence and impact is scarce in developing countries, including those in the Middle East and North Africa. This column reports evidence from a study of intra-household disparities in Egypt, taking account of attitudes toward gender roles, women’s ownership of assets, and the domestic violence that wives may experience from their husbands.

Manufacturing firms in Egypt: trade participation and outcomes for workers

International trade can play a large and positive role in boosting economic growth, reducing poverty and making progress towards gender equality. These effects result in part from the extent to which trade is associated with favourable labour market outcomes. This column presents evidence of the effects of Egyptian manufacturing firms’ participation in exporting and importing on their workers’ productivity and average wages, and on women’s employment share.

Do capital inflows cause industrialisation or de-industrialisation?

There is a clear appeal for emerging and developing economies, including those in MENA, to finance investment in manufacturing industry at home with capital inflows from overseas. But as the evidence reported in this column indicates, this is a potentially risky strategy: rather than promoting industrialisation, capital flows can actually lead to lower manufacturing value added and/or a reallocation of resources towards industries with lower technology intensity.

Financial constraints on small firms’ growth: pandemic lessons from Iran

How does access to finance affect the growth of small businesses? This column presents new evidence from Iran before and during the Covid-19 pandemic – and lessons learned by micro, small and medium-sized enterprises.

The economics of Israeli war aims and strategies

Israel’s response to last October’s Hamas attack has led to widespread death and destruction. This column outlines the impact thus far, including the effects on food scarcity, migration and the Palestinian economy in both Gaza and the West Bank.

Happiness in the Arab world: should we be concerned?

Several Arab countries have low rankings in the latest comparative assessment of average happiness across the world. But as this column explains, the average is not a reliable summary statistic when applied to ordinal data. The evidence from more robust analysis of socio-economic inequality in happiness suggests that policy-makers should be less concerned about happiness indicators than the core development objective of more equitable social conditions for citizens.