Modernizing the Middle East’s Economies

Most Middle Eastern countries missed the first industrial revolution based on coal and steam power, and the second industrial revolution based on oil and the internal combustion engine. While this has spared them the burden of declining industries, they need policies aimed at joining the third industrial revolution - the post-carbon economy of renewable energy and fuel-cell cars.

AMMAN – Rather than speak of the Middle East or the Arab world, I increasingly prefer to use the term WANA, meaning West Asia-North Africa. But, whatever we choose to call it, the danger is that the global economic crisis is providing an almost perfect alibi for governments and others in the region to continue with “business as usual,” when what is needed is a loud wake-up call.

The global economic crisis has merely helped to mask chronic structural imbalances within the region. Over-dependence on aid and oil revenues characterizes almost all the economies of WANA. Indeed, it is no exaggeration to say that they represent a form of life-support system. The problem of how to wean these countries off this addiction seems to be insurmountable.

For the “Dutch disease” and a rentier spirit prevail in WANA, and have affected oil-producing and non-oil-producing countries, ranging from migrant workers’ remittances and financial investment flows from the oil countries (mainly into real estate) to stock-exchange bubbles and foreign aid. A side-effect of this has been the widening of income gaps, both within and between the WANA countries.

To continue reading, please log in or enter your email address.

Registration is quick and easy and requires only your email address. If you already have an account with us, please log in. Or subscribe now for unlimited access.

required

Log in

http://prosyn.org/sYazRCm;
  1. Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images

    The Brexit Surrender

    European Union leaders meeting in Brussels have given the go-ahead to talks with Britain on post-Brexit trade relations. But, as European Council President Donald Tusk has said, the most difficult challenge – forging a workable deal that secures broad political support on both sides – still lies ahead.

  2. The Great US Tax Debate

    ROBERT J. BARRO vs. JASON FURMAN & LAWRENCE H. SUMMERS on the impact of the GOP tax  overhaul.


    • Congressional Republicans are finalizing a tax-reform package that will reshape the business environment by lowering the corporate-tax rate and overhauling deductions. 

    • But will the plan's far-reaching changes provide the boost to investment and growth that its backers promise?


    ROBERT J. BARRO | How US Corporate Tax Reform Will Boost Growth

    JASON FURMAN & LAWRENCE H. SUMMERS | Robert Barro's Tax Reform Advocacy: A Response

  3. Murdoch's Last Stand?

    Rupert Murdoch’s sale of 21st Century Fox’s entertainment assets to Disney for $66 billion may mark the end of the media mogul’s career, which will long be remembered for its corrosive effect on democratic discourse on both sides of the Atlantic. 

    From enabling the rise of Donald Trump to hacking the telephone of a murdered British schoolgirl, Murdoch’s media empire has staked its success on stoking populist rage.

  4. Bank of England Leon Neal/Getty Images

    The Dangerous Delusion of Price Stability

    Since the hyperinflation of the 1970s, which central banks were right to combat by whatever means necessary, maintaining positive but low inflation has become a monetary-policy obsession. But, because the world economy has changed dramatically since then, central bankers have started to miss the monetary-policy forest for the trees.

  5. Harvard’s Jeffrey Frankel Measures the GOP’s Tax Plan

    Jeffrey Frankel, a professor at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and a former member of President Bill Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisers, outlines the five criteria he uses to judge the efficacy of tax reform efforts. And in his view, the US Republicans’ most recent offering fails miserably.

  6. A box containing viles of human embryonic Stem Cell cultures Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images

    The Holy Grail of Genetic Engineering

    CRISPR-Cas – a gene-editing technique that is far more precise and efficient than any that has come before it – is poised to change the world. But ensuring that those changes are positive – helping to fight tumors and mosquito-borne illnesses, for example – will require scientists to apply the utmost caution.

  7. The Year Ahead 2018

    The world’s leading thinkers and policymakers examine what’s come apart in the past year, and anticipate what will define the year ahead.

    Order now