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Regional Papers on Middle East

Measuring the Impact of Agricultural Finance on Rural Inequality: Evidence from Egypt
Heba Farida Ahmed Fathy El-laithy, Ahmed Rostom & Lamia Donia , World Economics, March 2017
Evidence suggests that financial development and improved access to credit not only accelerates economic growth, but also reduces household poverty and income inequality. Using Egyptian household survey data evidence it is found that a 1% increase in agricultural wages causes poverty to decline by 6.6%. Agricultural wage increases lead to the largest decrease in overall income inequality where a 1% increase in income from agriculture wages will cause overall inequality to fall by 0.049 percentage points: equivalent to a fall in the Gini coefficient by 18.8%. A regression analysis shows that receiving formal loans increases non-agricultural net revenues by 2.94 times whereas credit increases a household’s agriculture revenues by 2.08 times.
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Counting the Costs of Political Violence in Bahrain
Mitchell Belfer, World Economics, December 2014
The relationship between economic and political stability remains under-researched. This paper looks at the sources and types of data necessary to measure the true economic cost of political instability and violence from the disturbances across the Arab world which occurred in 2011, but which have continued to rumble on in many Middle Eastern countries. The impact of violence on the economy is analysed from the perspective of the Kingdom of Bahrain, which is a tolerant Gulf state with an open economy and which has been steadily diversifying away from an over-reliance on oil extraction. The point of this paper is to demonstrate how economic stability and national prosperity may be endangered by political movements.
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Further Fallout from the Global Financial Crisis: Credit crunch in the 'periphery'
Adolfo Barajas, Ralph Chami, Raphael Espinoza & Heiko Hesse, World Economics, June 2011
We examine the recent credit slowdown in emerging markets from three analytical angles. First, we find that, similar to past history, a credit boom preceded the current slowdown in many emerging markets, and argue that, going forward, a protracted period of sluggish growth is likely. Second, we focus on a relatively understudied region – the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) – using a more detailed banking data. We uncover a key role played by bank funding, in particular, deposit growth and external borrowing slowed considerably, despite expansionary monetary policy. Finally, we show that bank-level fundamentals – capitalisation and loan quality – helped to explain differences in credit growth across banks and countries.
The Institutional Framework of the Gulf Central Bank
Nasser H. Saidi & Fabio Scacciavillani, World Economics, March 2009
This paper discusses the viable alternatives for a suitable institutional and governance framework for the policymaking body presiding over the GMU. The authors review a series of alternatives, from the simplest one (i.e. a governors’ council formed by the governors of the national central banks and monetary authorities, each endowed with a single equal vote), to the more elaborate ones, involving the set-up of a supranational institution, a Gulf Central Bank (GCB) with permanent staff, an appointed president and an executive board, which together with the national governors would form a monetary policy council (MPC) responsible for the setting of monetary policy instruments and taking decisions in all the main areas of monetary policy. The members of the MPC could be given equal voting rights, or voting power weighted according to the economic and financial size of each country, with some corrective counterweight mechanisms, such as a specific voting weight for the president and/or the executive board to provide checks and balances. The solution the authors feel markets (and the public) would find more credible and suitable would be one involving the creation of a new GCB with its own staff and an independent executive board, because it would strengthen the authority and sustainability of the institutional arrangement, and create an organisation that is an effective counterpart of the other major international central banks and financial markets.
The Oil-producing Gulf States, the IMF and the International Financial Crisis
Bessma Momani, World Economics, March 2009
As the finance-strapped International Monetary Fund (IMF) was placed at the centre of coordinating funding and offering ideas to navigate out of the international financial crisis, it became clear that the international community needed to reinvigorate the emerging market economies’ role in the organisation and in the broader international financial architecture. At the time of the Group of 20 (G20) meetings, the Gulf states were viewed as likely contributors to IMF liquidity. Despite the UK’s Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s visit to the Gulf in November 2008, and his claim that the Gulf would assist in an injection of liquidity into the IMF, the Saudi rulers decided to go empty-handed to the G20 meetings in Washington. Unlike the 1970s, when the Gulf came to the rescue of the western and international banking system, today Gulf rulers are more responsive to a new class that is more scrutinising of petrodollar recycling.
Are Economic Sanctions Useful in Discouraging the Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction?
Robert Carbaugh, World Economics, December 2008
against countries that have been implicated in the development of weapons of mass destruction and the use of terrorism. These sanctions have included limitations on customary trade and/or financial relations with a target country. Are sanctions effective in discouraging the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction? This paper investigates the nature and effects of sanctions applied to North Korea, Iran and Iraq. The paper concludes that although sanctions may help slow down the development of weapons of mass destruction, it is unlikely that they will be able to prevent determined and well financed countries from becoming members of the nuclear club. In the absence of military conflict, policymakers should reinforce the effectiveness of sanctions by being ready to negotiate and offer positive incentives as a method of encouraging cooperation with target nations.
Trends and Challenges in Islamic Finance
Heiko Hesse, Andreas (Andy) Jobst & Juan Solé, World Economics, June 2008
The paper first discusses the current trends in Islamic finance, which has become mainstream with currently more than US$800 billion of assets worldwide and a buoyant market for sukuk bonds. However, this exorbitant growth raises many challenges, particularly in the areas of banking, capital markets and regulation. Thus, the paper then considers these challenges, notably the economic and legal bottlenecks of sukuk, banking-specific issues, such as liquidity risk management and business models, as well as disharmonized financial regulation. Despite the challenges, the paper concludes that the Islamic finance industry has a bright future.
Islamic Economics and Finance
Rodney Wilson, World Economics, March 2008
This article provides an introduction to key concepts and methods involved in an Islamic approach to business, investment, risk taking and insurance. The prohibition of riba (interest or usury) profoundly influences the way business transactions and investments are made and financial contracts must comply with Islamic law or shariah. Underlying all economic and financial transactions from an Islamic perspective is a moral dimension, with the authoritative source of guidance being the Holy Quran, the revealed word of Allah, and the Hadith, the sayings and practices of the Prophet Muhammad and his companions, referred to as the Sunnah. Notably there is a concern about the justice of outcomes for individuals. A valuable contribution of the Islamic finance industry-with over one trillion dollars’ worth of assets designated as shariah compliant-is the issues it raises about morality and social accountability in financial dealings and the challenge it poses to conventional assumptions.
The EU, the Middle East, and Regional Integration
Bessma Momani, World Economics, March 2007
The European Union’s venture into enhancing trade linkages with the Middle East, as conceived by the 1995 Barcelona Process, had high hopes but failed in producing the intended political and economic deliverables. The Euro–Mediterranean Partnerships were flawed, as they created a hub and spoke trading relationship offering few of the welfare or (often forgotten) political benefits envisioned by the Europeans. The 2004 Agadir Agreement, however, may help rectify some of these problems by helping to stimulate intraregional trade.
Can Iraq Overcome the Oil Curse?
Robert E. Looney, World Economics, March 2006
A growing literature suggests that the oil sector and the allocation of its revenues is the critical variable in shaping both the economic structure and political systems of countries like Iraq. For the most part this literature focuses on the so-called “oil curse” or the “paradox of plenty.” An examination of the Iraqi situation suggests that the country’s current supply-side development strategy will ultimately result in the dominance of “oil cure” effects. In contrast, an alternative demand-oriented approach might be more likely to succeed in the current Iraqi environment.