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PublicationPrinciples for Public Credit Guarantee Schemes for SMEs(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2015-12) World Bank GroupAccess to finance, particularly credit, is widely recognized as problematic for small and medium enterprises (SMEs), hampering their growth and development. To address this challenge, many governments around the world intervene in SME credit markets through credit guarantee schemes (CGSs). A CGS offers risk mitigation to lenders by taking a share of the lenders’ losses on SME loans in case of default. CGSs can contribute to expand access to finance for SMEs. Yet they may bring limited value added and prove costly if they are not designed and implemented well. There have been efforts in recent years to identify good practices for CGSs, but the international community still lacks a common set of principles or standards that can help governments establish, operate, and evaluate CGSs for SMEs. The Principles for Public Credit Guarantees for SMEs are filling this gap. The Principles provide a generally accepted set of good practices, which can serve as a global reference for the design, execution, and evaluation of public CGSs around the world. The Principles propose appropriate governance and risk management arrangements, as well as operational conduct rules for CGSs, which can lead to improved outreach and additionality along with financial sustainability. Developed through extensive consultations with stakeholders, the Principles draw from both the literature on good practices for CGSs and sound practices implemented by a number of successful CGSs around the world. PublicationMiddle East and North Africa Economic Monitor, October 2015: Inequality, Uprisings, and Conflict in the Arab World(Washington, DC: World Bank, 2015-10-21) Ianchovichina, Elena; Mottaghi, Lili; Devarajan, ShantayananThe short-term prospects for a growth recovery in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) are slim in the context of low oil prices and conflict escalation. Regional GDP growth, estimated at around 2.8 percent in 2015, will remain weak if current circumstances persist. In fact, since the Arab Spring, the region has seen a growth slowdown and a rise in the incidence of civil wars. This report explores how the region got to this state. It examines whether inequality or other factors contributed to the Arab Spring uprisings as well as to the ensuing conflicts. The report concludes that expenditure inequality, which was relatively low and declining, could not been a major factor in triggering the Arab Spring events, although wealth disparities, which are typically higher, could have been. Instead, we find that ordinary people, especially the middle class, were frustrated by the decline in their standards of living, related to the shortage of quality jobs, the poor quality of public services and lack of government accountability. The report also explores whether inequality played a role in the increase in the incidence of violence after the Arab Spring and finds suggestive evidence that intergroup inequality, rather than monetary inequality, contributed to the escalation of conflict. PublicationJordan Economic Monitor, Fall 2015: A Hiccup Amidst Sustained Resilience and Committed Reforms(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2015-10-01) World BankThe Jordan economic monitor provides an update on key economic developments and policies over the past six months. It also presents findings from recent World Bank work on Jordan. It places them in a longer-term and global context, and assesses the implications of these developments and other changes in policy for the outlook for the country. Its coverage ranges from the macro-economy to financial markets to indicators of human welfare and development. It is intended for a wide audience, including policy makers, business leaders, financial market participants, and the community of analysts and professionals engaged in Jordan. PublicationEconomic Monitoring Report to the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee(Washington, DC, 2015-09-30) World BankPalestinians are getting poorer on average for the third year in a row. As evidenced in previous World Bank reports, the competitiveness of the Palestinian economy has been progressively eroding since the signing of the Oslo accords, in particular its industry and agriculture. Even though donor aid had increased government-funded services and fueled consumption-driven growth during 2007 to 2011, this growth model has proved unsustainable. Donor support has significantly declined in recent years and, in any case, aid cannot sustainably make up for inadequate private investment. Thus, growth has started to slow since 2012 and the Palestinian economy contracted in 2014 following the Gaza war. In early 2015, GDP was still lower than it was a year ago. Due to population growth, real GDP per capita has been shrinking since 2013. Unemployment remains high, particularly amongst Gaza’s youth where it exceeds 60 percent, and 25 percent of Palestinians currently live in poverty. Against the backdrop of weak economic growth, reduced donor aid, and temporary suspension of revenue payments by the Government of Israel (GoI), the Palestinian Authority’s reform efforts have not been able to prevent another year with a financing gap. The persistence of this situation could potentially lead to political and social unrest. In short, the status quo is not sustainable and downside risks of further conflict and social unrest are high. PublicationFinancial Inclusion in Tunisia: Low-Income Households and Micro-Enterprises Snapshot(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2015-09) Chehade, NadineThis snapshot provides an overview of financial inclusion trends and challenges in Tunisia. It follows the recent expiration of the Coordinated Vision for the Development of Microfinance in Tunisia 2011-2014, national strategy published in 2011. PublicationMENA Quarterly Economic Brief, July 2015: Economic Implications of Lifting Sanctions on Iran(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2015-07) Devarajan, Shanta; Mottaghi, LiliIran and the Permanent Members of the UN Security Council and Germany (P5+1) reached a deal on July 14, 2015 that limits Iranian nuclear activity in return for lifting all international sanctions that were placed on Iran (Box 1). This issue of the MENA Quarterly Economic Brief (QEB) traces the economic effects of this development—removing sanctions on Iran—on the world oil market, on Iran’s trading partners, and on the Iranian economy. PublicationLabor Market Dynamics in Libya: Reintegration for Recovery(Washington, DC, 2015-06-03) World BankThis policy note provides an initial assessment of Libya's labor market and discusses policy options for promoting employability as part of a broader jobs strategy. It is intended as a contribution to evidence on Libya's labor market for the benefit of policy makers, civil society and the broader international community. The report finds that the overall unemployment rate in Libya increased from 13.5 percent in 2010 prior to the uprising to 19 percent as of 2012, having changed little since then. Youth unemployment stands at approximately 48 percent and female unemployment 25 percent. The vast majority (85 percent) of Libya's active labor force is employed in the public sector, a high rate even by regional standards. The rate for women is even higher (93 percent). Employment in industry (largely the oil sector) and agriculture accounts for only 10 percent of the labor force. While nearly all public sector workers are covered by some form of social insurance, only 46 percent of private sector workers are enrolled - a striking difference. The report further discusses the implications of Libyan jobseeker profiles. Thirty percent of firms have reported difficulty in recruiting qualified Libyan nationals. Only 15-30 percent of Libya’s labor force is relatively skilled and likely could be hired readily if given access to basic job training and job search assistance. For the remainder of the unemployed work force, targeted interventions would need to be designed for advanced skills development, vocational training, reconversion, and apprenticeship and entrepreneurship programs. The report discusses options for shifting Libya from a rentier state to a diversified, productive economy through economic and technical partnerships to help accelerate creating economic opportunities and jobs. PublicationImproving the Quality of Financial Intermediation in the Gulf Cooperation Council Countries(Washington, DC, 2015-06) World Bank GroupThis engagement note provides a snapshot of financial development in the countries of the GulfCooperation Council (GCC), Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and identifies key areas of the financial sector reform agenda where the World Bank Group (WBG) through the Finance Markets Global Practice (FMGP) can provide its support, in particular through the provision of analytical services and advisory (ASA). A key challenge for GCC countries is to diversify their economic structures, increase the role of the private sector, improve the efficiency of the government and reform the educational system and the labor market. This is essential to create employment opportunities for a young and growing domestic population. In this context, the development of an efficient, stable and inclusive financial sector is a policy objective in itself and a necessary conduit to a more diversified and productive economic system. Against this backdrop, this engagement note suggests that improving the quality of financial intermediation in GCC economies is a balancing act between enhancing access and preserving stability. Accordingly, it detects and discusses several areas of engagement for WBG which are consistent with the financial sector reform agenda of the region. In particular, based on the expertise and delivery capacity of WBG, particularly of FMGP, this engagement note suggests that WBG target ASA in the following areas: (i) financial infrastructure, particularly insolvency regimes, creditor rights and payment and settlement systems; (ii) banking competition; (iii) government debt capital market development, including sukuk; (iv) credit guarantee schemes for SMEs; and (v) macro prudential supervision. PublicationChampions Wanted: Promoting Exports in the Middle East and North Africa(Washington, DC: World Bank, 2015-04-08) Jaud, Mélise; Freund, CarolineWhile other emerging regions were thriving, MENA's aggregate export performance over the past two decades has been consistently weak. Using detailed firm-level export data from Customs administrations, this report explains why. One central finding is that the size distribution of MENA's exporting firms is suggestive of a critical weakness at the top. With the exception of the top firm, MENA's elite exporters are smaller and weaker compared to their peers in other regions. The largest exporter is alone at the top-Zidane without a team. MENA countries have failed to nurture a group of export superstars which critically contribute to export success in other regions. Part of the reason behind weak export performance is the lack of a competitive real exchange rate. The deleterious effects of an uncompetitive currency can be traced all the way down to the firm, hurting expansion at the intensive and extensive margin and preventing the emergence of export take-offs. The lack of heavy weight exporters at the top of the distribution also reflects the region's failure to push for trade and business climate reforms energetically. Finally, MENA's prevalent cronyism and corruption under pre-Arab Spring regimes (at least) confirms that business-government ties led to distortionary allocation of favors and rent dissipation by beneficiary firms, with little evidence that those firms developed into national champions or helped lift the region's export performance. The possibility of state capture in itself should call for caution when advocating any form of government intervention. In contrast, some interventions, like export promotion programs show effects on small exporters. However, because these firms are marginal in trade, such programs cannot be game changers. More broadly, the success of MENA countries in promoting export growth and diversification as well as generating jobs depends heavily on their ability to create an environment where large firms can invest and expand exports and new, efficient firms can rise to the top. PublicationMiddle East and North Africa Economic Monitor, April 2015: Towards a New Social Contract(Washington, DC: World Bank, 2015-04) Devarajan, Shantayanan; Mottaghi, LiliThe economic outlook for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region in 2015 is slightly more favorable than in 2013-14, when the region as a whole grew at 3 percent a year. The World Bank group’s latest MENA Economic Monitor projects MENA’s economic growth to average 5.2 percent in 2015 driven by domestic consumption, easing political tensions crowding-in investments in Egypt and Tunisia, and full resumption of oil production in Libya. However the violent conflicts in Syria, Iraq, Gaza, Yemen and Libya with their spillovers to Lebanon and Jordan could make MENA’s economic prospects bleak. The report has a special focus on the corrosive nature of the large energy subsidies in MENA. The MENA region is currently experiencing growth below potential, high unemployment, urban air pollution and congestion, and severe water scarcity that is undermining agriculture. The report shows how energy subsidies have contributed to these development challenges. Reforming these subsidies, therefore, should be one of the highest priorities of policymakers.