Thursday, December 20, 2007

Middle East and North Africa Markets: Investment Challenges and Market Structure

Middle East and North Africa Markets: Investment Challenges and Market Structure

Zaher, Tarek S., (November 1, 2007). Networks Financial Institute Working Paper No. 2007-WP-30


This paper highlights the major developments and structural changes in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) markets. Noticeable growth was observed in these markets during the last decade. This is evidenced from the record growth rates in market capitalization, number of listed companies, value traded and shares traded in most of the MENA capital markets. Stock market boom was also observed, by the end of 2005, in many of the MENA countries. This was followed by a major correction (crash) in these MENA countries. To support the growth in capital markets and attract more local and foreign investors, MENA markets would need continue to incorporate changes to procedures, laws and the professional infrastructure within the financial market and better dissemination of information. Compliance with international and regional laws is also essential for a healthy development.

The paper also examines the evidence underlying the notion that there is increased integration of MENA and developed country financial markets and that MENA market equities do not represent a separate asset class. We analyze the correlation structures among individual country equity markets and efficient frontiers over two sub periods. We also analyze the structure of the correlations among political risk indicators for a similar group of countries over similar time periods. The results of the study suggest that capital market integration has accelerated in recent years, both economically and politically, but only for three countries in the MENA region. We therefore conclude that the MENA market countries should continue to be viewed as separate asset class from developed countries. These markets seem to be highly segmented and provide great diversification potentials to global investors.

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