Two years ago, citizens in the Arab world—fired by their ideals and visions of a better life—ignited a social movement that inspired people around the globe. In Egypt, Jordan, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia, and Yemen—the so-called Arab countries in transition—people embraced change, ushering in a new era. This issue of F&D looks at the difficulties of this transition, focusing on long-standing forces that shape the region’s economy and offering options for moving ahead to achieve strong, inclusive growth. • Masood Ahmed, Director of the IMF’s Middle East and Central Asia Department, maps out an agenda for modernizing and diversifying the region’s economies in “Toward Prosperity for All.” • In “Freedom and Bread Go Together,” Marwan Muasher addresses the intersection of economic progress and political change. • Vali Nasr, in a Point of View column, underscores the vital role small and medium-sized enterprises play in a successful democratic transition. Elsewhere in this issue, we look at how surging oil and gas production in the United States could shake up global energy markets; the effect of uncertainty on economic growth; and Mexico’s competitiveness rebound. F&D's People in Economics series profiles Christina Romer, former chair of the U.S. Council of Economic Advisers and an architect of the U.S. stimulus package; and the latest installment in our Back to Basics series explains how structural policies help to both stabilize and strengthen economies.
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.
Zidong An, Tayeb Ghazi, Nathalie Gonzalez Prieto, and Mr. Aomar Ibourk
This paper investigates the relationship between economic growth and job creation in developing economies with a focus on low and lower middle-income countries along two dimensions: growth patterns and short-run correlations. Analysis on growth patterns shows that regime changes are quite common in both economic growth and employment growth, yet they are not synchronized with each other. Okun’s Law—the short-run relationship between output and labor market—holds in half of the countries in our sample and shows considerable cross-country heterogeneity.
Khalid ElFayoumi, Anta Ndoye, Miss Sanaa Nadeem, and Gregory Auclair
Institutional and market frictions impose costs on the reallocation of labor from low to high
productivity sectors, leading to suboptimal allocations and a loss in aggregate labor productivity.
Using cross-country sector-level data, we use a dynamic panel error correction model to compute
the speed of sectoral labor adjustment, as well as the contribution of structural reforms in
governance, labor and product markets, trade and openness, and the financial sector to lowering
the costs of labor reallocation. We find that, on average, sectoral employment shares converge
towards equilibrium allocations, closing about 13.7 percent of labor productivity gaps each year;
this speed of labor adjustment varies across sectors and income groups. On structural reforms, we
find a significant association between more efficient labor reallocation and financial market
liberalization, less bureaucracy, strong judicial and regulatory environment, trade liberalization,
better education and more flexible labor and product markets.
Ms. Sena Eken, Mr. Abdourahmane Sarr, Mr. Jacques Bouhga-Hagbe, and Jérôme Vandenbussche (all MCD)
This Selected Issues paper on Morocco analyzes Morocco’s growth performance over the past thirty-five years with a special focus on the more recent past. The paper presents stylized trends in growth; it first puts the overall growth performance of Morocco in an international perspective, including an analysis of the evolution of growth volatility, and then decomposes growth by major sectors to retrospectively identify patterns of structural transformation as well as the most dynamic sectors. The paper also analyzes accumulation of factors of production and total factor productivity growth through a growth accounting exercise.
International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.
On September 29 at the IMF-World Bank Annual Meetings in Dubai, Abdlatif Y. Al-Hamad, Director General and Chair of the Board of Directors of the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development and former Kuwaiti Finance Minister, delivered the 2003 Per Jacobsson Lecture, “The Arab World: Performance and Prospects” His remarks are summarized below; the full text is available at http://www.perjacobsson.org.