Is debt the answer to Middle East economic troubles?


The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank Group spring meetings begin this week in Washington. As finance ministers and economic policy teams enjoy the cherry blossoms, the forecast for growth in the Middle East and North Africa looks more like winter. Real gross domestic product (GDP) growth across the Middle East and North Africa regions is expected to average 1.5% in 2019. Growth prospects are low, tied to low growth in the United States and Europe. There are pockets of higher growth inside the region, notably in places where reforms are underway — or the bounce back from war or bleaker times has begun. Where there are bright spots says a lot about the outlook for the region as a whole. For example, “notable expansions” are expected in Yemen and Iraq in 2019, according to the World Bank.