Opinion

Mohamed El-Erian

from The Great Debate:

Differentiated change in the Middle East and North Africa

Mohamed El-Erian
Feb 28, 2011 17:10 UTC

LIBYA/

By Mohamed A. El-Erian

For two months now, developments in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) have taken most by surprise. What started as an isolated protest in Tunisia has developed into a regional phenomenon that has toppled some regimes and is threatening others. Indeed, every day seems to bring yet another new dimension to an historical event that is changing the region and impacting the global economy.

Governments across the globe have spent weeks playing catch up in the midst of previously unthinkable developments in MENA. They have organized emergency evacuations of citizens and constantly responded to new realities on the ground, including the brutal violence in Libya.

Understandably, many are wondering about what comes next; and, understandably, predictions are subject to unusually wide bands of errors and uncertainties. With this said, I suspect that we may now be entering a period of much greater differentiation among MENA countries.

If this is correct, the sense of an unstoppable and unpredictable tsunami of change may be replaced by a need to distinguish among different country dynamics. And should this materialize, the world will face a dual challenge — understanding and dealing with what may well be four distinct groups of countries within MENA; and comprehending a new set of regional dynamics which involves different interactions among countries. Let us address each in turn.

Post-regime change countries, such as Egypt and Tunisia, are working hard to complete their revolutions and to ensure an orderly and complete transition to greater democracy and individual freedoms. Success lies in the following factors: defining a vision and associated action plan which command sufficient popular support; coordinating simultaneous progress on related economic, political and social issues; and implementing appropriate mid-course corrections as needed.

from The Great Debate:

Resetting Egypt’s economy

Mohamed El-Erian
Feb 9, 2011 17:59 UTC

EGYPT/

By Mohamed A. El-Erian
El-Erian is the CEO of PIMCO. He spent part of his childhood in Egypt where his father was a professor of international law at Cairo University and then served as an Egyptian diplomat and was elected to the International Court of Justice in 1978. The opinions expressed are his own.

While Egyptians are yet to specify the final destination for their revolution -- and only they can, and should do so -- there is little doubt in my mind that the country is now on a new, bold and uncertain road toward greater democracy and individual freedoms. The next few days and weeks will be critical in determining the journey for a country that is central to the stability of the Middle East.

Undoubtedly, domestic political developments hold the key to what will happen. Egyptians need to converge on a common understanding and vision of "managed change". And this vision must satisfy the millions of Egyptians -- from all ages, religions and walks of life -- that unite in Tahrir (Liberation) Square and elsewhere to better influence and improve their destiny.

from The Great Debate:

It’s time for a wider European policy debate

Mohamed El-Erian
Nov 18, 2010 21:12 UTC

AUSTRALIA/By Mohamed El-Erian
The opinions expressed are the author's own.

It is safe to say that there is broad agreement on what is most desirable for solving the Irish crisis -- namely a mix of domestic policies and external financing finely calibrated to enable the country to grow strongly, create jobs, stabilize the banks, and overcome large and mounting indebtedness.

Unfortunately, what is most desirable is not feasible given the path Europe is embarked on; and, to make things even more complicated, what appears feasible to Europe is not necessarily desirable. As a result, Ireland finds itself stuck in an unstable muddled-middle. It can't get ahead of the crisis; it is far from a first best solution; and it confronts choices that are painful to implement and uncertain in outcome.

What is evolving in Ireland today resembles what was done in Greece six months ago. Expect the Irish government to commit to even greater budgetary austerity, its European neighbors and the IMF to provide massive funding, and the banks to receive liquidity, capital injections and other unconventional forms of support.

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