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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Fair competition is needed to empower women economically in the Arab world

The participation rates of women in the labour market in Arab countries are the lowest in the world. This column argues that remedying the under-representation of women in the labour force is a social and economic imperative for the region. There are three dimensions for action to realise the potential of Arab women: amending laws and regulations; instilling fair competition in markets; and promoting the digital economy.

Recession without impact: why Lebanese elites delay reform

The survival of Lebanon’s political elites is highly dependent on the wellbeing of the economy. Why then do they delay necessary reform to avoid crisis? This column examines the role of politically connected firms in delaying much-needed economic stabilisation policies.

Competition laws: a key role for economic growth in MENA

Competition policy lacks the attention it deserves in the countries of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), a region characterised by monopolies and lack of market contestability. As this column explains, there are many questions about the extent of anti-competitive barriers facing new market entrants in the region. What’s more, MENA’s weak overall performance on competition is likely to be hindering economic growth and the path towards structural transformation.

The future of Egypt’s population: opportunities and challenges

Egypt’s potential labour supply depends on the growth and changing composition of its working-age population. This column reports the latest data on labour supply and fertility rates, concluding that the country has a window of opportunity with reduced demographic pressures to try to address longstanding structural challenges for the labour market.

Formidable challenges facing the Middle East require a sea change in economic policies

Weakening global growth, endemic conflicts and increased tensions within the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) – as well as emerging challenges such as climate change and rapid demographic shifts – are likely to have an adverse impact on the region’s economic, social and political stability in the coming years. This column outlines the policy responses that are needed to avert disaster.

Domestic demand and competition: a new development paradigm for MENA

A lack of competition in domestic and regional markets is holding back development in the Middle East and North Africa. This column argues that the region and the international community must ensure that barriers to market entry and exit are eliminated, and that independent regulatory bodies at the national and regional levels help to promote domestic demand as the main engine for sustainable and inclusive growth.

Effects of urbanisation on productivity and wages: evidence from Turkey

Are the substantial productivity gains associated with larger cities in developed countries similar for developing countries? This column provides evidence on urbanised economies in the non-Western world by focusing on Turkey, a country that has experienced fast urbanisation and a high rate of growth of the urban population.

Gender discrimination in small business lending: evidence from Turkey

Discrimination in access to financial services can prevent women from exploiting their entrepreneurial potential. This column reports on a ‘lab-in-the-field’ experiment to test for the presence of gender discrimination in small business lending in Turkey.

How import dependence could lead to corruption in MENA

Export-led development strategies have had little success in MENA countries; what’s more, instruments of earlier import-substitution strategies – such as state-owned enterprises, high tariffs and subsidies – have survived. As this column explains, these legacies have created crony-capitalist industries that have limited the level of competition in many sectors of the economy and furthered the region’s dependence on imports.

Social security for young workers in Arab countries

Social security coverage of young workers in Arab countries is low – in part because many are employed in informal jobs; and in part because they do not see the value of the system. This column reports survey evidence on young workers’ attitudes towards participation in both social security and politics. It also explores policy reforms that might make access to social security universal for young workers.