Nguyen, Ha

Development Research Group
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Last updated July 5, 2023
Ha Minh Nguyen is an Economist in the Macroeconomics and Growth Team of the Development Research Group. He joined the Bank in July 2009 as a Young Economist after earning a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Maryland, College Park. He also holds a M.A. and B.A. in economics from The University of Adelaide, Australia. His research interests include International Finance and Economic Growth. His current research is on the financial crisis and the real exchange rates.
Citations 37 Scopus

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Now showing 1 - 7 of 7
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    Technology Adoption and the Middle-Income Trap: Lessons from the Middle East and East Asia
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2019-05) Arezki, Rabah ; Fan, Rachel Yuting ; Nguyen, Ha
    This paper documents the existence of a "middle-income trap" for the Middle East and North Africa region. It argues that the economic woes of the Middle East and North Africa offer new insights into the debate on the trap which has thus far focused on the East Asia and Pacific region. The results are two-folds. First, non-parametric regressions show that the average rate of economic growth in the Middle East and North Africa has not only been significantly lower than that in the East Asia and Pacific region, but it has also tended to drop at an earlier level of income. Second, econometric results point to Middle East and North Africa having experienced a relatively slow pace of technology adoption in general-purpose technologies. The paper concludes that barriers to the adoption of general-purpose technologies related to the lack of contestability in key sectors could constitute an important channel of transmission for the middle-income trap.
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    Middle East and North Africa Economic Monitor, October 2018: A New Economy for Middle East and North Africa
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2018-10) Arezki, Rabah ; Mottaghi, Lili ; Barone, Andrea ; Fan, Rachel Yuting ; Harb, Amani Abou ; Karasapan, Omer M. ; Matsunaga, Hideki ; Nguyen, Ha ; de Soyres, Francois
    Growth in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is projected to rebound to an average of 2% in 2018, up from an average 1.4% in 2017. The modest rebound in growth is driven mostly by the recent rise in oil prices, which has benefitted the region’s oil exporters while putting pressure on the budgets of oil importers. The rebound also reflects the impact of modest reforms and stabilization efforts undertaken in some countries in the region. The report forecasts that regional growth will continue to improve modestly, to an average of 2.8% by the end of 2020 while there is the ongoing risk that instability in the region could worsen and dampen growth. Despite recovery, the slow pace of growth will not generate enough jobs for the region’s large youth population. New drivers of growth are needed to reach the level of job creation required. The report offers a roadmap for unlocking the enormous potential of the region’s large and well-educated youth population by embracing the new digital economy. Broader and bolder reforms will be needed to achieve this goal, along with critical investments in digital infrastructure. It will require the reorientation of education systems toward science and technology, the creation of modern telecommunications and payments systems, and a private-sector driven economy governed by regulations that encourage rather than stifle innovation.
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    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, Ha
    World 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.
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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.
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    Middle East and North Africa Economic Update, April 2020: How Transparency Can Help the Middle East and North Africa
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2020-04-09) Arezki, Rabah ; Lederman, Daniel ; Abou Harb, Amani ; El-Mallakh, Nelly ; Fan, Rachel Yuting ; Islam, Asif ; Nguyen, Ha ; Zouaidi, Marwane
    Due to the dual shocks of the spread of the virus and lower oil prices, World Bank economists expect output of MENA to decline in 2020. This is in sharp contrast to the growth forecast of 2.6 percent published in October 2019. The growth downgrade of 3.7 percentage points is arguably a measure for the costs associated with the dual shocks of Covid-19 and the oil price collapse. These numbers are tentative. The true impact depends on future developments of the dual shocks, policy and society’s response, which depends on the transparent use of health and economic data. We recommend a two-step approach: It might be desirable to focus first on responding to the health emergency and the associated economic contraction. Fiscal consolidation and structural reforms associated with the persistent drop in oil prices and pre-existing challenges are also very important, but with proper external support, can wait until the health emergency subsides. Nevertheless, the MENA region has challenges that predate the crisis – it has been growing far slower than its peers. Had MENA’s growth of output per capita been the same as that of a typical peer economy over the past two decades, the region’s real output per capita would be at least 20% higher than what it is today. A large part of MENA’s low growth is arguably due to a lack of transparency. MENA is the only region that dropped in data transparency and capacity since 2005. We estimate that this has cost MENA 7-14 percent in GDP per capita losses since 2005. Lack of transparency hinders credible analyses of many important issues, two of which are highlighted in the report. First, lack of data transparency hampers credible analyses on the region’s debt sustainability – an important issue to examine after the crisis. MENA countries vary greatly in their debt reporting standards. World Bank economists and other external analysts do not have access to vital information about many types of public debt. Second, the unemployment and informality numbers in the region are debatable since MENA countries rely on varying definitions of employment with little harmonization across the region or with respect to international standards. This affects analyses of unemployment and informality.
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    Middle East and North Africa Economic Update, October 2019: Reaching New Heights - Promoting Fair Competition in the Middle East and North Africa
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2019-10-09) Arezki, Rabah ; Ait Ali Slimane, Meriem ; Barone, Andrea ; Decker, Klaus ; Detter, Dag ; Fan, Rachel Yuting ; Nguyen, Ha ; Miralles Murciego, Graciela ; Senbet, Lemma
    Part I of this report discusses the short- and medium-term growth prospects for countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). The region is expected to grow at a subdued rate of 0.6 percent in 2019, rising to 2.6 percent in 2020 and 2.9 percent in 2021. The growth forecast for 2019 is revised down by 0.8 percentage points from the April 2019 projection. MENA’s economic outlook is subject to substantial downside risks—most notably, intensified global economic headwinds and rising geopolitical tensions. Part II argues that promoting fair competition is key for MENA countries to complete the transition from an administered to a market economy. Part II first examines current competition policies in MENA countries and to promote fair competition calls for strengthening competition law and enforcement agencies. It also calls for corporatizing state-owned enterprises, promoting the private sector and creating a level-playing field between them. Any moves to reform MENA economies would be aided by professional management of public assets, which could tap into a new source of national wealth.
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    Reality Check: Forecasting Growth in the Middle East and North Africa in Times of Uncertainty
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2022-04-11) Gatti, Roberta ; Lederman, Daniel ; Islam, Asif M. ; Wood, Christina A. ; Fan, Rachel Yuting ; Lotfi, Rana ; Mousa, Mennatallah Emam ; Nguyen, Ha
    The Middle East and North Africa economies face an uncertain recovery. The war in Ukraine presents significant challenges to the global economy and the MENA region. Inflationary pressures brought about by the pandemic are likely to be further exacerbated by the conflict. The potential for rising food prices is even higher, which is likely to hurt the wallets of the poor and vulnerable in the region. The COVID-19 pandemic continues to cast a shadow. As the latest variant sweeps over the region, countries grapple with a host of problems depending on initial conditions and policy priorities. The region, like the rest of the world, is not out of the woods yet. Vaccinations remain the effective path out of the pandemic, leading to lower hospitalizations and death rates. Testing helps curb the spread. During times of uncertainty, it is important to not be overconfident about the region’s growth prospects. Growth forecasts serve as a significant signpost for policymakers to chart a path forward. Over the last decade, growth forecasts in the MENA region have often been inaccurate and overly optimistic, which can lead to economic contractions down the road due to ebullient borrowing. There is considerable room for the region to improve its forecasts that are largely hindered by opaque data systems, growth volatility and conflict. The MENA region lags considerably in the timely production of credible statistics. A key finding of the report is that the best way to improve forecasters is to provide forecasters with as much good quality information as possible.