Syria remains mired in the past.

The Syrian economy, according to a recent analysis developed by the Middle East Media Research Institute (Washington), "remains highly controlled and correspondingly inefficient." The country's wealth is dominated by a small group of families, the regime is semi-authoritarian, and promised economic reforms have been very slow in emerging.

The current government has apparently come to terms with the fact that its old style command economy, that is a centrally controlled and regulated economy based on an old style rigid economic model, does not work and instead is pursuing what some governments in similar predicaments call a social market economy.

The Middle East Media analysis said that Germany after World War II was a viable example of a working social market economy where the role of the government was confined to protecting the "market" from domination by groups who had the wealth and ability to manipulate the market for its own purposes. Competition among all sectors of the economy is encouraged. And safety nets are provided for those who do not have the means or will to compete.

This model is nearly the exact opposite of what currently exists in Syria, and progress toward a social market economy is merely a "slogan" according to an economist quoted in the Middle East Media study.

Genuine consumer activity, that is spending fueled by discretionary income, is lacking except for consumers working for foreign companies or the government in relatively high positions.

Average growth for...

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