Economic Research Forum (ERF)

Samir Makdisi

Founding contributors

Samir Makdisi
American University of Beirut

Samir Makdisi is professor emeritus of economics and founding director of the Institute of Financial Economics, the American University of Beirut (AUB). He has served as Minister of Economy and Trade, Republic of Lebanon, 1992 and Deputy President of AUB, 1992-1998; member of the Board of Trustees of the Economic Research Forum and of the Board of Directors of the Euro-Mediterranean Econom-ic Research Institutes (FEMISE). He received his Ph.D in Economics from Columbia University.

Content by this Author

Sustainability of GCC development under the new global oil order

It is now a widely held view that the price of oil will eventually be converging to a lower long-term trend. Together with growing demands for political change in the MENA region, this implies the need for many countries to reconsider their growth models and their underlying social contract. This column considers the implications for the members of the Gulf Cooperation Council.

On autocracy, democracy and populism: Tunisia and the wider Arab region

Different circumstances offer different opportunities for the emergence of populism. This column contrasts the rise of populist movements in the established democracies of the West with the uprisings against entrenched autocracies in the Arab region. While many of the latter have been reversed or sparked civil conflict, there is hope in Tunisia’s gradual transition towards consolidating a fully-fledged democracy.

Prospects for a closely integrated Euro-Arab Mediterranean region

The Euro-Med partnership of over 40 countries aims for closer integration of the region, fostering the development and stability of the southern and eastern members, and narrowing economic and political gaps between North and South. This column explores its prospects, concluding that the rationale for a politically integrated Euro-Arab Med region does not seem to have been adequately thought out: it is a matter that deserves deep study.

Prospects for development with democracy in the Arab world

What are the prospects for democracy in the Arab world? This column expresses the hope that as conflict-afflicted countries embark on their programmes of economic reconstruction, autocratic institutions will not be re-established under the pretext of the need for a speedy and steady recovery. The optimal path of development necessarily includes robust growth, equity as well as democracy.

forum Talks – Reconstruction and development

Samir Makdisi highlights the importance of clearly identifying funding, human and physical capital requirements to address reconstruction priorities.

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The impact of hosting refugees on the labour market

What are the labour market effects of a massive influx of people on members of the host community? This column examines the experience of Jordan resulting from the conflict in neighbouring Syria. Evidence shows that Jordanians living in areas with high concentrations of Syrian refugees had no worse labour market outcomes than Jordanians with less exposure to the influx.

Economies of agglomeration and firm productivity in Egypt

There is a strong body of international evidence that firms are more productive when they cluster near one another geographically. This column reports new findings on the substantial productivity benefits of such agglomeration in Egypt. The results have important implications for policy, including the value of establishing specialised industrial zones for promising business clusters with high growth potential.

Unemployment in Tunisia: why it’s so high among women and youth

Why is unemployment among women, youth and educated people so high in Tunisia? Drawing on a new ERF book – The Tunisian Labor Market in an Era of Transition – this column explores three key factors - labour supply pressures; weak demand for skilled labour; and rigidities in the core institutions of the labour market – as well as potential policy responses

Lebanon’s austerity budget of 2019: a last resort to avoid crisis?

Lebanon’s high and rising public debt has become unsustainable. This column explains why it is essential that the austerity measures in the draft budget of 2019 are approved in order to avert imminent debt and exchange rate crises.

Return migration and income mobility in MENA

The emigration and return migration of working-age men in the Middle East and North Africa have significant effects on national economies. This column summarises new evidence on the contribution of moving to another country for work and later returning home to the lifetime earnings and intergenerational socio-economic mobility of workers in Egypt, Jordan and Tunisia.

Falling rents should make way for institutional reforms in Arab states

Can the development prospects of the Arab countries be separated from the natural resource endowments that have been shaping their economies for so long? This column outlines the likely downward trajectories of per capita natural resource rents to 2030 – and the sense of urgency that those numbers should bring to discussions of the need for institutional reform.

Why reforms in the Middle East are unavoidable

One striking feature of the recent economic history of the Middle East is high-income Gulf economies financing the persistent external imbalances of its geo-strategically important neighbours. This column asks what happens when, as a consequence of the technological disruptions of the global fossil fuel market, the current account deficits of key countries in the region are no longer sustainable.

Unemployment in Tunisia: why it’s so high among women and youth

Why is unemployment among women, youth and educated people so high in Tunisia? Drawing on a new ERF book – The Tunisian Labor Market in an Era of Transition – this column explores three key factors - labour supply pressures; weak demand for skilled labour; and rigidities in the core institutions of the labour market – as well as potential policy responses.

France’s headscarf ban: the effects on Muslim integration in the West

What is the effect of religious bans on the economic and social integration of Muslim minorities in Western countries? This column reports evidence on the effects of France’s 2004 legislation banning conspicuous religious symbols in schools, which particularly affected the headscarves worn by Muslim women. There has been a damaging impact on the educational attainment and later life outcomes of young Muslim women affected by the ban.

Women, work and social norms in Saudi Arabia

Employment rates for women in Saudi Arabia are very low. By custom, they cannot decide for themselves whether to work or not – they need the consent of their male guardian (either their husband or father). Whether men permit their wives or daughters to work depends crucially on social norms. This UBS Center column reports evidence that most Saudi men privately believe that women should be allowed to work, but that they underestimate the extent to which other men share their views.