Egypt’s period of euphoria following the toppling of Mubarak in 2011 was followed by the sobering realities of the political transition process. This column reports research showing how a wave of dissatisfaction overtook the popular mood, providing support for the conservative backlash in the presidential elections of 2012.
What policy actions can help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to enhance their integration into the global market for goods, services and ideas? This column outlines recommendations in a new book on the opportunities and challenges facing SMEs in developing countries, focusing in particular on the role of digital technology in supporting SMEs in Arab economies to export and grow.
Rising unemployment in Turkey during the global financial crisis prompted the government to expand its provision of free vocational training. This column reports an evaluation of the newly introduced programme, which finds that the costs of training the unemployed exceeded the benefits.
What are the implications of recent developments in global oil markets for the oil-exporting countries of the Arab region? This column outlines key issues discussed at an ERF conference hosted by the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development in Kuwait in November 2017.
Whether export sanctions are effective depends on their goal. This column highlights that if the goal is to reduce total exports of the targeted country, sanctions may be less effective as exporters can redirect their exports from one destination to another. But if the goal is to put pressure on exporters in the targeted country, then sanctions can be effective as exporters incur welfare losses while redirecting exports to new destinations.
In December 2010, Iran introduced an ambitious energy subsidy reform that combined large price increases for fuel with generous cash transfers. This column explains the key lesson: that despite severe flaws in the programme’s implementation, it is possible to reduce the distortions caused by cheap energy and offer citizens a minimum basic income that is not excessively harmful to work incentives.
Inflows of foreign direct investment can act as a catalyst for domestic firms to develop sophisticated manufacturing products, according to evidence from Turkey presented in this column. The authors conclude that investment promotion policies can play a key role in facilitating upgrading of the national production structure.
There is widespread discontent and social unrest in the Arab world, a direct result of decades of failed economic and political transitions led by largely autocratic regimes. This column argues that economic development thinkers and practitioners need to present credible alternatives for a new Arab society that meets citizens’ aspirations and restores their essential freedoms.
The degree of exchange rate flexibility within an inflation targeting framework matters in emerging economies. This column reports research that quantifies the impact of different approaches to the conduct of monetary policy on inflation and output variability in Egypt.
Vehicle exhaust fumes are a major cause of air pollution in megacities like Cairo. This column outlines the policies that the Egyptian authorities have introduced in an effort to cut emission rates and raise the costs to users of polluting vehicles. Air pollution has been reduced but much remains to be done, notably investing in an effective public transport system.
Migration can be responsible for the spread of new social norms about gender roles. This column explores the impact of temporary migration from Jordan to more conservative and highly unequal neighbouring countries. The results indicate that women in households with a return migrant become more conservative themselves.
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.
The use of trade policy tools such as boycotts, embargoes and sanctions has become increasingly prevalent in international conflicts. This column reports research that examines the impact of politically motivated consumer boycotts on trade relations. The two examples are conflicts between China and Japan; and between Denmark and the Muslim world.
At a time when young people in MENA countries face an increasingly protracted and difficult transition to adulthood, how can housing policy help them to marry and form independent households? This column explains how reforms to the rental housing market in Egypt helped to reverse a trend towards later marriages.
The widespread replacement of coal with natural gas as Turkey’s key energy source over the past 25 years has led to much improved air quality. This column reports research showing that the environmental benefits of the transition to natural gas have resulted in a significant reduction in infant mortality.
Although the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean region had been enjoying a decade of relatively high growth just prior to the Arab Spring, the fruits of prosperity remained unequally distributed. This column examines countries’ inability to ignite structural change and start shifting their large and young labour force towards well-paid jobs in the key sectors of a modern economy.
There is a clear need for MENA countries to create policy frameworks that will improve the credibility and effectiveness of economic policy-making. This column outlines the main institutional weaknesses that must be addressed, and the six key elements of a well-structured framework for economic policy management.
Two interconnected challenges for the Arab countries are how to increase the low participation of women in the labour market and how to reduce a longstanding reliance on the public sector as ‘employer of last resort’, especially for women. This column explains the economic benefits of removing impediments to women’s employment in the private sector.