Tuesday, February 01, 2011

oil, food, and the wealth of countries in play...,

EarlyWarning | I thought it would be helpful (at least to me) to put up some very basic statistics about all the Middle East and North African (MENA) countries. Firstly, from the IMF, we have the GDP/capita for twenty MENA countries (2009 figures, expressed in dollars at PPP).

It's good to be clear which MENA countries actually produce the oil. Here are the 2009 data from BP:Tunisia is a minnow in the global oil market, Egypt slightly more important. Algeria, however, matters a lot as its oil production is probably close to total demonstrated OPEC spare capacity. Thus serious social instability in Algeria would have major effects on global oil prices. If instability spread to bigger oil producers than that (eg Kuwait or UAE), the effects could be very dramatic.

Presumably, the regimes in those countries are in a much better position to buy their populations off, being much wealthier. I must admit to feeling slightly dirty writing that sentence. Staring at this list of countries makes clear what we already know: about a third of global oil production comes from this array of nasty autocratic regimes, and thus the global economy is utterly dependent on their continued stability.

Next, here are unemployment rates (for those countries the IMF has stats for - most don't provide them).The stats are high everywhere except Kuwait. Though, if the official figures are to be believed, comparable to the US currently. The countries currently experiencing unrest do not have obviously massively higher unemployment than other countries in the region, suggesting the potential for further unrest. For example, Saudi unemployment is apparently higher than Egypt's.

Finally, here are the IMF's estimates of inflation rates. In this case, I have taken 2008 figures, both because they are the last year for which actuals were available for all countries but Tunisia, but also because conditions in oil and food markets in 2008 seem like the best guide for events in the next few years.

6 comments:

CNu said...

Rich, Poor and a Rift Exposed by Unrest

“The protesters are against us,” she added. “We hope President Mubarak stays because at least we have national security. I wish we could be like the United States with a democracy, but we cannot. We have to have a ruler with an iron hand.”

Now some accuse the Mubarak government of deliberately fanning class tensions in order to create demands for the restoration of its brutal security state. But such resentments have built up here for nearly a decade outside of public view.

“These big guys are stealing all the money,” said Mohamed Ibraham, a 24-year-old textile worker standing at his second job as a fruit peddler in a hard-pressed neighborhood called Dar-al-Salam. “If they were giving us our rights, why would we protest? People are desperate.”

nanakwame said...

This, to me, is the ultimately heroic trait of ordinary people; they say no to the tyrant and they calmly take the consequences of this resistance.
Philip K. Dick

The early warning signs have been here as you have pointed out for the last 3 years. The problems is predictions are not a crystal ball, and never will be; we may see a trajectory, we can't see how it pan outs, until the music plays.

CNu said...

bread crumbs brother, bread crumbs...,

I see some outwardly predictable data in those IMF variables though - and wonder at their applicability here close to home.

Big Don said...

Give it 5 years. When all the stateside Fuzzlims take to the streets raising hell, demanding the entire US government cancel the Constitution and step down, whose side are you gonna be on...??

Tom said...

BD do you even know any US muslims? You know what they want? SUVs. Big houses with nice green lawns. A good economy.

CNu said...

Strictly by the numbers, Syria's GOT to go...,