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Overconfident: How Economic and Health Fault Lines Left the Middle East and North Africa Ill-Prepared to Face COVID-19(Washington, DC: World Bank, 2021-10-07) Gatti, Roberta ; Lederman, Daniel ; Fan, Rachel Yuting ; Hatefi, Arian ; Nguyen, Ha ; Sautmann, Anja ; Sax, Joseph Martin ; Wood, Christina A.This report examines the region’s economic prospects in 2021, forecasting that the recovery will be both tenuous and uneven as per capita GDP level stays below pre-pandemic levels. COVID-19 was a stress-test for the region’s public health systems, which were already overwhelmed even before the pandemic. Indeed, a decade of lackluster economic reforms left a legacy of large public sectors and high public debt that effectively crowded out investments in social services such as public health. This edition points out that the region’s health systems were not only ill-prepared for the pandemic, but suffered from over-confidence, as authorities painted an overly optimistic picture in self-assessments of health system preparedness. Going forward, governments must improve data transparency for public health and undertake reforms to remedy historical underinvestment in public health systems.
Middle East and North Africa Economic Update, April 2019: Reforms and External Imbalances - The Labor-Productivity Connection in the Middle East and North Africa(Washington, DC: World Bank, 2019-04) Arezki, Rabah ; Lederman, Daniel ; Abou Harb, Amani ; Fan, Rachel Yuting ; Nguyen, HaWorld Bank economists expect economic growth in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) to continue at a modest pace of about 1.5 to 3.5 percent during 2019-2021, with some laggards and a few emerging growth stars. In late 2018, The World Bank called on the leaders of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) to aim high. We called for a set of aspirational, but attainable, goals in the digital-economy space (Arezki and Belhaj 2018). If the economies of MENA achieve those goals, they will not only have leapfrogged many advanced economies in terms of coverage and quality of cellular and broadband services, they will register notable advancements in digital payments. This installment of the Middle East Economic Update series, published every six months by the MENA Office of the Chief Economist, makes a more subtle point about a slow moving emerging challenge for the region’s economies: reducing macroeconomic vulnerabilities in some economies is inextricably linked to an all-out effort to create an advanced digital economy (the so-called Digital Moonshot) and other structural reforms. The link, surprisingly, is aggregate labor productivity.
Publication(Washington, DC: World Bank, 2015-01) Devarajan, Shanta ; Mottaghi, LiliThis issue of the MENA Quarterly Economic Brief focuses on the implications of low oil prices for eight developing countries, or the MENA-8 (oil importers: Egypt, Tunisia, Lebanon and Jordan and oil exporters: Iran, Iraq, Yemen and Libya) and the economies of the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council), who play a major role in providing funds in the form of aid, investment, tourism revenues and remittances to the rest of the countries of the region. We make the following assumptions about the future price of oil: (i) The price will average $65 Brent p/b in 2015; (ii) a higher price $78 Brent p/b will be used for comparison analysis. As with other economic variables, there is uncertainty associated with the future price of oil, which adds to the error involved in projections. The data for 2015 2017 in the figures and tables are projections. These projections are based on statistical information available through early January 2015.