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Arab Awakenings

It’s been a momentous year for the Arab world and the transformation from autocracies to democracies will probably not be an easy one for any of the countries. Help debate which course of action might best help countries effect economic and political transition. We welcome your comments on all the articles. We welcome your comments on all the articles.
Guest Commentary:
Assigned blogposts from guests, ERF affiliates and staff

Governance, Aid and Corruption in Transition: Taking State Capture Seriously by Daniel Kaufmann
Evidence suggests that over the past decade, misgovernance in the Arab world was not only acute, but also worsened over time. Yet this poor and deteriorating quality of democratic governance was largely ignored by the international community, which continued to provide increasing volumes of foreign aid to governments whose standards of democratic voice and accountability were among the worst in the world. The strategies and lending practices of donors and International Finance Institutions’ (IFIs) were often supported by partial and uncritical assessments of country performance. read more

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Egypt at an economic crossroads by Ahmed Farouk Ghoneim
As soon as former president Hosni Mubarak stepped down on February 11th, criticism of the former regime as a hotbed of crony capitalism became deafening. To further complicate matters, specific allegations of corruption became criticisms of the free market economy system. Mixing fact with fiction, some people attempted to use the 2008 financial crisis as evidence of the failure of the system. There have also been calls for a new economic system based on social equity with a larger role for the government. Since I have no idea what the above demand means, I can only assume it’s mere propaganda to gain votes. read more

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- Dr. Ghoneim, I completely agree, "This is a clear case of government failure -- not of a failure of the market system itself….The system will function as long as the right rules and regulations are in place and are adhered to." There exists ...
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- Dear Dr. Ahmed and The ERF team, The incentives alone are not a solution especially with corrupted system that can absorb any incentives without producing qualified outputs. I’m working in the government and recently witnessed the wage increase two times without any reflected production...
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It is time for more youth-friendly economic and social policies in Egypt
by Ragui Assaad

Despite considerable lip service paid by the previous regime to prioritizing youth issues, including calls for education reform and greater access to employment and affordable housing, I argue in this piece that the regime’s economic and social policies resulted in the exclusion and marginalization of young people in Egypt. As the social contract of the state-led model of development was being gradually dismantled over the past 40 years, youth increasingly bore the brunt of this restructuring, as the regime sought to protect various groups of insiders. As the quintessential outsiders, youth bore the brunt of the transition without benefiting from the fruits of a new social order, which were mostly limited to a few cronies close to the regime. read more

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Have Your Say:
Your chance to air your views

Iraq at the Deadline: Challenges to the Economy
by Zeki Fattah

With the deadline for the withdrawal of the American forces in Iraq closing in, Iraqis in all walks of life are seeking answers to what would consolidate Iraq’s sovereignty and stability once the Americans leave. Major political issues remain unresolved, and power sharing is still perceived with wide differences by political groups. One would have expected Iraq’s economy, with its fabulous natural resources, to have played a unifying role. The benefit from the resources could have been widely spread and its people should have, by now, taken control of the economy and jealously guarded the country’s sovereignty. Almost a decade after the regime change, Iraq’s economy is still in a state of flux. read more

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Were the uprisings due to economic dissatisfaction?
by Perrihan Al-Riffai

Did the economic deterioration in people’s living standards play a role in triggering the revolutions? Experts have long identified slow progress in eco¬nomic diversification (link 1) and job creation (link 2), social inequalities and persistent food insecurity (link 3). But it is unclear if these factors contributed to the recent uprisings. Because economists have long been suspicious of the quality of economic data in the Arab world (link 4), my colleagues, Clemens Breisinger and Olivier Ecker, and I have tried to look beyond the conventional data. In a recent IFPRI policy brief (link 5), we look at direct estimates of people’s satisfaction with their standard of living, as measured in Gallup polls (link 6) taken in 18 Arab countries in 2010, and in the recent past. read more

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Economics in the age of politics,
by Ishac Diwan

With the Arab Spring sputtering in Syria, Libya, Bahrain, and Yemen, it is now increasingly important that it establishes a solid foothold in Egypt and Tunisia. A group of would be reformers, led by Morocco and Jordan, are also looking into political and economic reforms that can satisfy popular demands but avoid turmoil. To be sure, there are short term economic challenges in all these countries. But more centrally, while the youth, middle class, labor, and the poor have initiated deep change, a new political and economic settlement has not yet emerged. As witnessed by the recent Orange revolutions, street led action fails if they do not manage to deliver results. read more

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- Corruption was endemic in Tunisia and rising. According to Transparency International, Tunisia's ranking on the index dropped from 43 in 2005 to 65 in 2009 (out of 179 countries) with a score of 4.2 (with 1 the most corrupt and 10 the least corrupt). Furthermore, the survey conducted ...
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- The essence of national dialogue; who talks with whom about what? Egypt needs rational dialogue. Although it just had the first clean elections in decades, no one has been able to satisfy the average voter. With all the conflicting forces on the political landscape the probability staying on track may not be as easy as it first seemed 10 months ago. ...
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