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International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.
This Selected Issues paper analyzes the various transmission channels of the Syrian crisis—though quantification is hampered by the lack of reliable data—with focus on the impact on fiscal performance and labor markets; it also takes stock of international donor efforts to date. The paper also provides overviews of main effects on Lebanon’s economy, the expenditure pressures associated with the refugee presence, the impact on poverty and inequality, and the added strains on labor markets. A section of the paper describes the response by the international community to help Lebanon cope with the Syrian crisis. Absent additional international support, the needs of both refugees and affected Lebanese communities will not be met. Sound government policies—including implementation of a concerted policy framework to deal with refugee issues and a commitment to fiscal discipline—will send credible signals to donors and help mobilize budget support. Tackling the unprecedented refugee crisis requires strong international support. There has been a large international humanitarian response, but much more is needed.
Mr. Sami Ben Naceur, Barbara Casu, and Hichem Ben-Khedhiri
This study examines the effect of financial-sector reform on bank performance in selected Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) countries in the period 1994 -2008. We evaluate bank efficiency in Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Lebanon and Tunisia by means of Data Envelopment Analysis (DEA) and we employ a meta-frontier approach to calculate efficiency scores in a cross-country setting. We then employ a second-stage regression to investigate the impact of institutional, financial, and bank specific variables on bank efficiency. Overall, the analysis shows that, despite similarities in the process of financial reforms undertaken in the five MENA countries, the observed efficiency levels of banks vary substantially across markets, with Morocco consistently outperforming the rest of the region.Differences in technology seem to be crucial in explaining efficiency differences. To foster banking sector performance, policies should be aimed at giving banks incentives to improve their risk management and portfolio management techniques. Improvements in the legal system and in the regulatory and supervisory bodies would also help to reduce inefficiency.