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 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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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.