October 2021, Paper: "In the past decade, economic performance has been low in most countries of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), as they were hit first by the chaos that followed the uprisings of 2011, then by the subsequent fall in international oil prices in 2015, and more recently, by the Covid-19 crisis since 2020. To appease the concerns of restless citizens, fiscal and external deficits have been allowed to rise. This unsustainable and fragile situation today resembles that which came out of the 1980s: on average, growth was close to zero for the region during the 1980s, and it was not much larger in the decade of the 2010s (see Table 1). Similar to the debt crisis that forced a number of reforms at the end of the 1980s, fiscal space has disappeared as fast as public debt has ballooned. At the same time, poverty and unemployment have been on the rise in many countries."
HKS Author - Ishac Diwan