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The Political Economy of Macroeconomic Policy in Arab Resource-Rich Economies

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  • Adeel Malik

    () (Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies and Department of International Development, University of Oxford)

Abstract

Revisiting macroeconomic policies and outcomes of Arab resource-rich economies (RREs), this paper synthesizes the political economy considerations that underpin policy choices. The paper argues that, in the context of Arab RREs, fiscal and financial sector policies play a particularly important role in absorbing natural resource rents. Fiscal policy is highly pro-cyclical and rooted in the underlying political settlement, which is based on extensive distributional commitments. Financial systems are deep but are known for restricted financial access to vast areas of economy. Given the excessive dependence on hydrocarbon rents and the prevalence of fixed exchange rate regimes, the external constraint remains more binding. Even where monetary policy has greater room to operate, existing policy frameworks are not geared towards domestic targets, such as inflation and unemployment, and are largely determined outside the purview of macroeconomic policy. I argue that the political objective function is essential for understanding these macroeconomic arrangements. With weak productive constituencies and few institutional constraints, macroeconomic policy involves limited feedback from the private sector and upholds the interest of the sovereign. In this milieu, institutional constraints on fiscal policy are more important than central bank independence. The paper also discusses the stability implications of current macroeconomic arrangements, arguing that stability in Arab RREs is almost entirely predicated on the uninterrupted flow of oil rents rather than resilient institutional structures.

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  • Adeel Malik, 2016. "The Political Economy of Macroeconomic Policy in Arab Resource-Rich Economies," Working Papers 1034, Economic Research Forum, revised Aug 2016.
  • Handle: RePEc:erg:wpaper:1034
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    Cited by:

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    2. Bougharriou, Nouha & Benayed, Walid & Gabsi, Foued Badr, 2018. "The democracy and economic growth nexus: Do FDI and government spending matter? Evidence from the Arab world," Economics Discussion Papers 2018-17, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).

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