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Global Economy

Tunisia: Looking ahead or back to the future?

Antonius Verheijen's picture
Also available in: العربية

I had the privilege recently to spend an unscheduled hour of discussion with a group of young Tunisians who were visiting our offices. As often, on these occasions it is hard not to get captured by the energy and impatience of the young people in this region. It gives hope that entrepreneurial spirit is really alive and well in a country where reliable private sector services remain otherwise hard to come by, let alone public ones. If one combines the energy of youth with the message in a recent (equally energetic) speech by the Minister of Development to a large group of investors, one gets a sense that Tunisia is, indeed, looking ahead and not to the past.

Yet, as always, reality is far more complex, and often we are confronted with a much gloomier picture of a country that is perceived as, economically, turning inward. This is the case even more so now, as Tunisia is coming under immense pressure to get its public finances in order. This has generated some decisions that go right against the message of openness and dynamism that one gets when meeting with young Tunisians. It all begs the question, for a newcomer like myself, which of the parallel universes is the real one, and, as in a movie, which one ultimately will prevail.

Did data miss the Arab Uprisings?

Mohamed Younis's picture
Also available in: Français | العربية
Cairo's Tahrir Square, Egypt. Hang Dinh / Shutterstock.com

In the build up to the Arab uprisings, data was doing its part to deceive those who follow the region closely. Tunisia and Egypt provide great examples. Both nations closed the first decade of the century implementing the kind of classic economic reforms often praised by western-based multilateral and international organizations. Extremely qualified, intelligent and well-meaning experts on both countries took an objective look at reforms, GDP trajectories and other traditional metrics, such as infant mortality rates, poverty reduction, etc., and concluded that these countries, while not perfect, were moving forward along a path of increasing correction. A few weeks later, both nations were in complete political upheaval.  

Developing but growing less happy: what explains this paradox in the Arab world?

Elena Ianchovichina's picture
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Shutterstock l arindambanerjee

The events of the Arab Spring took the world by surprise: there were no obvious signs of an approaching storm in the Levant and the Maghreb. Objective measures—used on a regular basis—showed that economies in these parts of the Middle East and North Africa grew at a moderate pace, had low and declining rates of absolute poverty, low-to-moderate income inequality, as well as decreasing child mortality rates and increasing levels of literacy and life expectancy. 

After the nuclear agreement: What’s next on the economic front for Iranians?

Amin Mohseni-Cheraghlou's picture
Also available in: Français | العربية
 Thomas Koch l Shutterstock.com

The nuclear agreement between Iran and the “P5+1” has finally reached adoption stage - and there is much excitement on economic fronts. Multinationals from around the world are queuing up to gain access to Iran’s market of more than 70 million people, many of whom have an appetite for Western goods!

Much ado about nothing? The economic impact of refugee ‘invasions’

Massimiliano Calì's picture
Also available in: العربية | Français
Stranded Refugees and Migrants camp in Hungary - Spectral-Design l Shuterstock.com

To those European Union citizens who think that the ongoing “refugee invasion” into the EU is quickly becoming economically unsustainable: If the experience of Syria’s neighbors is anything to go by, you may need to think again.

Stock market tensions and the impact on the GCC

Jaime de Piniés Bianchi's picture
Also available in: Français | العربية
 Fedor Selivanov l Shutterstock.com

The slowdown in China and the weak recovery in Europe and the United States has also impacted Commodity markets.  Oil prices, however, had held firm until the decision of Saudi Arabia in mid-2014 to support its market share rather than prices.

Gulf women and competing economies

Dr. Amal Mohammed Al-Malki's picture
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‘Arab Women’ are the subject of Western and Eastern curiosity and, often, fascination. However, most attempts to investigate ‘Arab Women’ reduce them to one entity, ignoring their multitude of experience.  The fact is Arab women are very different from each other.  Just like everyone else, their realities are shaped by different personal, social, economic, religious and political factors. Arab women are the products of their diverse societies. Yet, the impact of differences on women’s lives are rarely captured or studied, much less understood. 

What Smart(er) Politicians Do With Subsidies: Jobs

Heba Elgazzar's picture
Also available in: Français | العربية


What makes smart politicians?  Jeffrey Frankel has an idea.   His recent blog examines the allure, and trap, of universal subsidies.   For one thing, they know that pulling the plug on bad policies should be done sooner rather than later.  The same can be said of other policies related to investment and labor legislation.  Economic democracy is a great thing.  However, beware of misguided routes to achieving it. 

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