August 27, 2006
Published: World Bank Report on MENA - 2006
Perhaps I will make this a tradition, but let me draw your attention to the semi-newly published (June, hey I didn't notice) World Bank report on MENA economic prospects, for 2006.
Last year's got me all inspired to rant on a bit and otherwise criticise a noble if somewhat flawed effort. It also inspired some parties to suggest I write "Development Porn" - I suppose writing the following engendered this:
I shared my outrage and incomprehension over these figures with her (Yes, sadly in taking coffee with attractive young women on the weekend, I remain unable to have light conversation. I am afraid she only puts up with it because she wants to bed me and my handsome passport. I remain coy. Ha. Besides, otherwise we have to talk about her hair or some boring nonsense - or I end up talking to her fetching white but too tight and full shirt, better to get wound up on macro-economic data and entrepreneurship. Save me from making my life more complex.), and I believe rather got something of a window on the thinking - perverse, conservative and risk-averse - behind these otherwise completely incomprehensible numbers.
Regardless, this year's report appears to be as interesting, although the completely awful graphics and mildly retarded layout seem to have been retained. It appears the Office of the Chief MENA Economist at WB is filled with people to proud to outsource their publication work to actual publications people.
In the alternative, they have retarded Egyptians working on the publication, given the document shows the typical sensibilities of things published in Cairo.
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Thanks for the post. A couple question:
1. When the report talks about how the price of oil has contributed to the development of the region is there any contradiction between that and then specifying the growth of oil exporters? How many oil exporters are there in the MENA? Isnt it concentrated in the peninsula? Basically how does an increase in the price of oil effect the rest of the region, the majority of the region, that happens to be non-exporting?
2.The report speaks about the importance of employment creation, does it also factor in the traditional unemployment or underemployment of the female population? What about literacy and infrastructure being important to invest, being central to creating employment oppurtunities?
Posted by: bikhair at August 29, 2006 06:26 PM
On the first point, there is a bit of a contradiction, although not entirely.
Oil exporters in MENA are the Gulf minus Yemen, Egypt [barely], Tunisia [barely, largely covers own consumption], Algeria - and Iran outside the Arab zone. And Iraq of course. And Libya, bollocks, forget them all the time. Syria has some own production, but its situ is like Tunisia, covering largely domestic demand.
The major difference among the serious exporters (Gulf plus Algeria plus Iran plus Libya) is Small Population versus Large Population. Algeria, for example has a relatively large population relative to exports of hydrocarbons, as does Iran. That puts both in a far different position than the Emirates for example. KSA is heading towards being an Algeria, pop to revenue wise, having started off clearly in a Emirate/Kuwait type situ.
There are issues besides direct revenues and costs, on the later by way of illustration: Morocco has presently a massive governmental deficit becuase it imports nearly 100 percent of needs, and then subsidises at wholesale to pump pricing at a 35 USD Barrel level [or so] (a bit of Statist madness that is utterly unaffordable, however, are not unusual; Egypt does the same thing as does Jordan, although support levels differ).
There are also capital flows. This time around much more capital is clearly staying in region and flowing to private investment or quasi-private investment. That is what I was in part commenting on in Giddiness: MENA Private Sector & New America Foundation.
Capital flows, investment equity, with risk tolerance - the Gulf people have become more aware of their environment and more ready to put money in things other than real estate = is a non-negligable positive.
Does that offset the cost to the non-exporters in terms of higher energy costs?
Very hard to say. Depends on whether investments are well channeled or not.
On the second point, well, I am not clear on what you're really asking. Employment creation across the board is weak in the region, female or male. Certainly literacy, etc. is important, and the report touches on that, if I recall, in re skill levels. However, the employment markets in region are really perversely distorted by a number of factors that in many ways penalise education, above all as so much advanced degree granting is either corrupt or utterly inappropriate to market demand.
Posted by: The Lounsbury at August 30, 2006 11:50 AM
Reading bits and pieces, one thing that jumps out at me is just how basically useless it is to lump the low resource/high labor economies together. There's some sense putting the Gulf oil states together, but what kind of commonalities can you find among Lebanon, Egypt and Morocco? (Never mind Jordan, Tunisia, and ??Djibouti??)
Posted by: Tom Scudder at August 31, 2006 03:29 PM
Actually you find a lot of structural commonalities.
Djibouti and Yemen, on the other hand, aren't really in the same world.
Tunisia, Egypt, Morocco and Lebanon, while they have their specificities, share a lot of common issues.
Posted by: The Lounsbury at September 1, 2006 10:55 AM