Central banks have been at the forefront of the COVID-19 crisis to mitigate their effects through accommodative monetary policy responses in environments characterized by constrained fiscal policy and high public debt in the MENA region. This new environment opens numerous questions on how to design monetary policy under uncertainty. Indeed, the growing risk of economic disruptions, both in the region and further afield, underlines the need to devise effective monetary policies to enable MENA countries to prepare for, withstand and recover from disasters. Furthermore, developments in fintech, blockchain, and digital currencies are offering both opportunities and challenges to central banks. By profoundly changing the world we live in, these innovations are forcing institutions like central banks to anticipate how high-tech financial solutions could enhance efficiency and outputs across a range of industries.
The 1st Annual Central Bank Conference on Development Economics in the Middle East and North Africa is organized by the Regional Research Network of Central Banks in the MENA region and the World Bank Office of the MENA Chief Economist. It is hosted by Central Bank of Tunisia.
The theme of the conference is "Macroeconomic Policy: Innovation and Challenges during Uncertain Times". The conference will take place over two days, December 1-2, during 8:00am – 12pm (EST, UTC-5) / 2:00pm – 6pm (CET, UST+1) each day. It will be held online via the Zoom platform. The conference will feature opening remarks by Roberta Gatti (World Bank Chief Economist for MENA); a keynote speech by Carmen Reinhart (Vice President and Chief Economist of the World Bank Group); a session on Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) comprising John Kiff (formerly of the IMF and the Central Bank of Canada), Maria Soledad Martinez Peria (IMF); and a concluding panel of MENA Central Bank Governors moderated by Ferid Belhaj (World Bank Vice President for MENA).
The conference will also include three pairs of parallel sessions during which a total of 18 research papers will be presented, grouped by the following session themes: Macro Modelling in the COVID Era; Finance and Macroeconomics; Crisis Impact on the Banking Sector; Macroeconomics of Calamities; Managing Business Cycles; and Financial Risks in MENA and Policy Implications from Banking Sector. The latter parallel session will include a presentation by Leora Klapper on the Financial Risks Facing MENA Region in light of the forthcoming World Development Report of the World Bank.