This paper takes stock of the economic performance of resource rich countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) over the past forty years. While those countries have maintained high levels of income per capita, they have performed poorly when going beyond the assessment based on standard income level measures. Resource rich countries in MENA have experienced relatively low and non inclusive economic growth as well as high levels of macroeconomic volatility. Important improvements in health and education have taken place but the quality of the provision of public goods and services remains an important source of concerns. Looking forward we argue that the success of economic reforms in MENA rests on the ability of those countries to invest boldly in building inclusive institutions as well as high levels of human capacity in public administrations.
This paper studies the main determinants of total factor productivity (TFP) growth using principal component analysis and a dynamic panel data model and, through a case study, explores key areas where accelerated reforms in the Maghreb countries would boost TFP gains. The results reveal that reforms targeted at attracting foreign direct investment and rationalizing government size, shifting resources from low-productivity sectors to higher ones, and encouraging women to enter the work force, could accelerate TFP gains. Equally important are reforms aimed at strengthening human capital, increasing the volume of trade, and improving the business environment.
Long-run movements of real exchange rates are studied using a panel data set comprising 51 economies. The purchasing power parity hypothesis (PPP) is examined first using unit root tests. It is found that PPP does not hold for the full sample of countries, but it may hold for the advanced economies, as well as open and high-inflation economies. Using the recently developed mean group and pooled mean group estimators, the paper finds support for the Balassa-Samuelson hypothesis in both advanced and developing economies; and for the influence of shifts in the terms of trade.