Peter Bauer, Callisto Madavo, Rudiger Dornbusch, Mario Draghi, Carlos Vegh, Alan Richards, John Waterbury, Ismail Serageldin, Hossein Askari, Robert E. Looney, Mr. Zubair Iqbal, Fiorella Padoa Schioppa, G.D.N. Worswick, Mr. Charles Adams, Paul Champsaur, Michel Delear, Jean-Michel Grandmont, Roger Guesnerie, Claude Henry, Jean-Jacques Laffont, Guy Laroque, Jacques Mairesse, Alain Monfort, Yves Younes, Mr. Bernard Ziller, Peter Diamond, William Easterly, Todd G. Buchholz, and Rui Coutinho
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Large differences among European Union countries in postcrisis employment growth to a large extent were driven by the need to adjust corporate balance sheets, which had greatly deteriorated during the boom years in some countries but not in others. To close the large gaps between saving and investment, firms reduced investment and cut costs to boost profits. With much of the cost adjustment falling on firms’ wage bills, employment losses were largest in countries under the most intense pressures to improve corporate profitability and with limited wage flexibility due to labor market duality.
This paper reviews the increasing private capital flows to less developed countries. The share of developing countries in the foreign direct investment is small, perhaps less than 30 percent of the total. The effects of this decline in the volume of foreign investment and the continued problem of capital flight have been aggravated by the serious fall in commercial bank lending to developing countries as a group and by a decline in official development assistance.
This volume comprises two separate papers on key structural aspects of the reform process in the Gulf Cooperation Council countries. The first paper addresses issues related to financial intermediation and reform in the context of the evolving economic environment in the GCC countries. The second discusses the labor market challenges and policy issues in the GCC countries and their implications for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.
This paper presents an overview of the unprecedented economic and social transformation witnessed by the member countries of the Cooperation Council of the Arab States of the Gulf (GCC)-Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates-over the last three decades.
Over the past three decades the member countries of the Cooperation Council of the Arab States of the Gulf (GCC)—Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates—have witnessed an unprecedented economic and social transformation. Oil proceeds have been used to modernize infrastructure, create employment, and improve social indicators, while the countries have been able to accumulate official reserves, maintain relatively low external debt, and remain important donors to poor countries. Life expectancy in the GCC area increased by almost 10 years to 74 years during 1980-2000, and literacy rates increased by 20 percentage points to about 80 percent over the same period. Average per capita income in the GCC countries was estimated at about $12,000 in 2002, with their combined nominal GDP reaching close to $340 billion (more than half the GDP of all Middle Eastern countries; see Table 1). With very low inflation, overall real economic growth has averaged 4 percent a year during the past three decades, while the importance of non-oil economic activities has grown steadily, reflecting GCC countries’ efforts at economic diversification. Moreover, central bank international reserves alone in some GCC countries are equivalent to about 10 months of imports. This progress has been achieved with an open exchange and trade system and liberal capital flows, as well as open borders for foreign labor. The GCC area has become an important center for regional economic growth.
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.
International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.
This Selected Issues paper analyzes energy price reform in Kuwait. It emphasizes that Kuwait should take advantage of current low global energy prices to strengthen efforts to reform domestic energy prices. In the longer term, this would benefit growth by increasing efficiency in the economy and creating space for higher public and private investment. In the short-term, one-off effects on inflation should be manageable. Productive activities more sensitive to energy costs, particularly the transport sector, would be able to adjust to higher energy prices more easily if the reform is gradual.
This paper develops a theoretical framework to study the impact of bonus caps on banks’
risk taking. In the model, labor market price adjustments can offset the direct effects of
bonus caps. The calibrated model suggests that bonus caps are only effective when bank
executives’ mobility is restricted. It also suggests, irrespective of the degree of labor
market mobility, bonus caps simultaneously reduce risk shifting by bank executives (too
much risk taking because of limited liability), but aggravate underinvestment (bank
executives foregoing risky but productive projects). Hence, the welfare effects of bonus
caps critically depend on initial conditions, including the relative importance of risk
shifting versus underinvestment.
Unemployment pressures among nationals are emerging in the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (GCC). 2 At a time when a rapidly growing number of young nationals are entering the labor force and governments are no longer able to act as employers of first and last resort, the non-oil sector continues to rely on expatriate labor to meet its labor requirements in most GCC countries. In this environment, policymakers face the related challenges of addressing unemployment pressures while striking a balance between maintaining a liberal foreign labor policy and a reasonable level of competitiveness of the non-oil sector. Using a matching function framework, this paper examines labor market policies that are likely to expand the ability to hire nationals in the non-oil sector. It finds that an effective labor strategy should focus on strengthening investment in human capital, adopting institutional reforms, and promoting a vibrant non-oil economy.