Economic Research Forum (ERF)

Simon Neaime

Founding contributors

Simon Neaime
American University of Beirut

Simon Neaime obtained his PhD in Economics from York University and his MA in Economics from the University of Toronto. He is currently Professor of Economics and Finance, Director of the Institute of Financial Economics, and former Chair of the Department of Economics at the American University of Beirut. He has numerous academic articles published in top field finance and economics journals on emerging economies in general and the MENA economies in particular. Simon has also published several textbooks on emerging markets and was recently granted ERF’s lifetime research fellowship.

Content by this Author

Lebanon’s 2019 austerity measures: enough to restore confidence?

Lebanon has entered the danger zone of high public indebtedness. As this column explains, this could seriously compromise the credibility and sustainability of the fixed exchange rate regime and may spark renewed inflationary pressures. Proposed austerity measures are unlikely to be enough to restore confidence in the country’s economy.

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.

Recent financial and debt crises: is the MENA region immune?

How vulnerable is the MENA region to a ‘sudden stop’ in capital inflows and the potential for associated financial and debt crises? This column outlines the risks and the appropriate policy responses.

Arab economic integration: trade and growth policy after the crises

Greater economic and financial integration of the Arab countries is widely agreed to be essential both to promote growth and to shelter the region more effectively from the negative impact of future global crises. This column outlines key policy measures.

Contagion vulnerability of MENA economies

The weak economic performance of MENA countries in recent years would deteriorate further in the event of fresh negative shocks to the world economy. This column highlights the key vulnerabilities of the region to various external events as an essential step in the formulation of appropriate macroeconomic policies.

Inflation targeting versus nominal exchange rate targeting in MENA

Targeting inflation – a monetary policy strategy that has been successfully used in several developed countries – has become an increasingly attractive alternative to nominal exchange rate targeting in emerging economies. This column compares recent experiences with the two policy regimes in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia and Turkey – and outlines the key requirements for the effective adoption of inflation targeting.

Exchange rate policies and external public debt in the MENA region

Emerging economies are often subject to currency crises and foreign debt crises around the same time. This column explores the links between these phenomena in five MENA economies – Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Tunisia and Turkey – and the current sustainability of fiscal and exchange rate policies in these countries.

Euro-Med trade agreements, macroeconomic stability and income convergence

Economic relations between the European Union and their partner countries in the Southern Mediterranean are being reshaped by the New European Neighbourhood Policy and related trade negotiations. This column reports research on the likely impact of greater trade and financial integration on macroeconomic stability and income convergence between the two regions – and the implications for economic policy-makers in the MED countries.

Are macroeconomic policies sustainable in the Euro-Med region?

Policy-makers in the European Union and its partners in the Southern Mediterranean have introduced austerity measures to limit further deteriorations in countries’ fiscal and macroeconomic positions. This column reports research on the issues of debt sustainability and the ‘twin deficit hypothesis’ – the idea that there is a strong link between the budget balance and the current account balance. Traditional macroeconomic policies seem largely ineffective for promoting sustainable growth and averting future financial crises.

Financial inclusion, financial stability and inequality

Are programmes aimed at promoting financial inclusion in the countries of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) leading to less poverty and income inequality and more financial stability? This column outlines the evidence from a study of eight MENA countries.

Lebanon’s challenge of fiscal sustainability

New legislation by the Lebanese government, which provides a big boost to the salaries of public sector employees, puts considerable pressure on the country’s public finances. This column outlines the potential impact on inflation, interest rates, the balance of payments and the exchange rate – and the kind of austerity measures that are needed to restore fiscal sustainability without too much damage to potential economic growth.

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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.

Arab countries are caught in an inequality trap

Conventional wisdom, based mainly on surveyed household income distribution statistics, suggests that inequality is generally low in Arab countries. At the same time, little attention has been devoted to social inequalities, whether in terms of outcomes or opportunities. This column introduces a forthcoming report, which offers a different narrative: based on the largest research project on the subject to date and covering 12 Arab countries, the authors argue that the region is caught in an inequality trap.

The Egyptian economy is still not creating good jobs

Growth in Egypt has recovered substantially since the downturn following the global financial crisis and the political instability following the 2011 revolution – but what has happened to jobs? This column reports the results on employment conditions from just released data in the 2018 wave of the Egypt Labor Market Panel Survey.

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.

How Egyptian households cope with shocks: new evidence

Managing risks and reducing vulnerability to economic, social, environmental and health shocks enhances the wellbeing of households and encourages investment in human capital. This column explores the nature of shocks experienced by Egyptian households as well as the coping mechanisms that they use. It also examines the relationship between such risks and job formality and health status.

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.

Egypt’s labour market: facts and prospects

An ERF policy conference on the Egyptian labour market in late October 2019 focused on gender and economic vulnerability. This column summarises the key takeaways from the event.

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.

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.