A Nobel for Humility in Economics

Nobel Prize

As you are by now all probably aware, Richard Thaler won this year’s Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences. All question of whether this is a “real” Nobel can now be laid to rest, since the announcement was made via the Nobel Prize’s official verified Twitter account.

Thaler won the prize for his research in behavioral economics, although he’s far from the first behaviorist to win it — Herbert Simon, Daniel Kahneman, and Robert Shiller all got the big gold medal from Sweden. But Thaler’s work is arguably more wide-ranging and influential than any of those earlier pioneers. And it’s the sheer breadth of Thaler’s research that offers a peek into where the discipline of economics is headed.

Loosely speaking, the economics of the past was a search for a grand unified theory. At first, supply-and-demand was the idea that tied econ together. Later, that was replaced with explicit modeling of economic decision-making as the optimization of a rational economic “agent.” To predict anything from the price of tomatoes in Wyoming to the savings rate in Bangladesh, you would just assume that people maximize utility and companies maximize profit, then write down a mathematical optimization problem that would spit out an answer. This method — sometimes called the neoclassical approach — grew so popular that economists started applying it to sociology, law and politics.

Lots of people justifiably made fun of the unrealistic hyper-rational agents in these economic models. Early behaviorists like Kahneman gained credence by poking holes in the idealized vision of homo economicus. But there was still the hope that a general theory of economic behavior existed and could be found. Kahneman tried to replace standard rational optimization with prospect theory. Behaviorists like Matt Rabin hoped that human irrationality could be represented as small deviations from a single unified theory.

I see Thaler’s research as qualitatively different. Whereas many behaviorists want to replace or tweak the standard theory, Thaler started smashing it left and right. He pointed out anomaly after anomaly. And instead of trying to design a new theory-of-everything to explain the anomalies, he borrowed or created situation-specific theories, such as mental accounting and the endowment effect and so on. Sometimes the theory was a very simple one. Or sometimes, like Shiller, he merely documented where standard theory went wrong, and left the theorizing to someone else.

Critics of behaviorism see this as a flaw. They bemoan the replacement of one theory with many. If you have a different explanation for every situation, the anti-behaviorists say, what’s to stop you from telling just-so stories? These critics tend to see Thaler’s research as a destructive force.

But Thaler isn’t just a bomb-thrower — his approach is far smarter than that. I believe he’s out to create a new paradigm — one that doesn’t rely on a grand unified theory of human behavior.

There’s no reason that economics has to be like physics. Physicists are always trying to unify their theories — to show how what appear to be different forces and principles are actually the same. But human behavior might just not be like that — the way that a person decides which brand of soy sauce to buy might simply be different from the way she decides when to buy Apple Inc. stock. Thaler’s research is all about forcing economists to acknowledge this possibility.

So how can we know which theory to use in which situation? Data. The behavioral revolution goes hand in hand with the empirical revolution now sweeping the wider economics profession. Over the past couple of decades, economists have steadily been theorizing less and measuring more.

Let’s hope this isn’t just a fad, but a fundamentally new paradigm for the field. The old way of choosing between different explanations was to start with the assumption of a grand unified theory and then find the minimum possible deviation that explains the phenomenon in question. The new way should be — and in some cases, already is — to gather a number of plausible explanations and let the data dictate which one applies. Then as economists find theories that each work for a small, limited domain, they can explore other areas where each theory might also apply. Slowly, each successful theory’s domain will expand, and when two of them happen to bump up against each other — that is, when they give equivalent results — economists can work on unifying the two.

This is basically how natural scientists approach the world. Instead of jumping to a conclusion that looks as clean and pretty as physics, economists should more closely follow the methods that physicists actually use.

So behaviorism isn’t really about psychology — it’s about humility. Sometimes things people do can be explained by psychological biases, sometimes by purely rational optimization and sometimes by other things entirely. Thaler is intent on making econ about what works, instead of what we think ought to work. As such, it has the potential to have reach and power far beyond the specific topics Thaler has spent his storied career investigating.


Turkey Expects $1.6 Billion Surplus in Medium-term Plan

Ankara- The Turkish government expects its primary surplus at 5.8 billion lira ($1.62 billion) in 2018, as part of its latest medium-term plan.

The government also announced in its Official Gazette that it targeted primary surplus of 11.8 billion lira in 2019 and 25.5 billion lira in 2020 as part of the plan, which is updated annually.

The ratio of primary surplus to GDP was seen at 0.2 percent in 2018 and 0.3 percent in 2019, the Official Gazette said, reaching 0.6 percent in 2020.

Meanwhile, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek said that in 2018, an additional 18 billion lira ($5 billion) would be allocated to the Ministry of National Defense and military industries.

The new allocations will help buy weaponry to modernize the military.

Simsek told a TV interview that the Turkish government intends to lower spending in the 2018 budget.

Also this week, according to released data, the total market value of companies listed on the Borsa Istanbul Stock Exchange (BIST), which stood at 616 billion lira ($172 billion) as of December 30, 2016, have increased, reaching 801 billion lira ($223 billion) in September.

National Investment Fund of $92 Billion to Invigorate Saudi Economy

Jeddah — The establishment of the National Development Fund (NFD) was meant to ensure new incentives for the Saudi economy with a capital of SAR 345 billion ($ 92 billion) pumped into the new fund.

The fund encompasses five other minor associate funds: the real estate fund standing at SAR 183 billion ($ 50 billion), the social development fund at SAR 46 billion (US $ 14 billion), the industrial development fund at SAR40 billion (US $ 1.5 billion), the Saudi development fund at SAR 31 billion (US $8.3 billion dollars), and the agricultural development fund of SAR 20 billion riyals (US $5.2 billion dollars).

The total capital of the five funds exceeds the capital of commercial banks operating in Saudi Arabia which stands at SAR 168.4 billion riyals ($ 48.8 billion) – placing the capital of the new entity close to twice as that of the combined capital of commercial banks.

Labor and Social Development Minister Dr. Nasser al-Ghafis said that “establishing the National Development Fund reflects the interest and keenness of the Kingdom’s wise leadership to continue supporting development programs and projects that serve the citizen directly and enhance national economy in line with sustainable development.”

Minister Ghafis stressed that the National Development Fund will raise the level of performance and productivity of funds and development banks in the Kingdom, working side by side with other government sectors to meet the aspirations of citizens in light of the economic development witnessed by the country.

The National Development Fund, which will supervise the functions of its affiliated bodies, will have a board of directors headed by the deputy prime minister and it will comprise a membership of not less than seven members nominated by the prime minister.

The board of directors of the National Development Fund will assume all tasks and powers, and make decisions, take progressive measures and other actions deemed necessary for establishing the fund.

The National Development Fund shall have a governor with a minister’s rank, who will be the executive officer of the fund.

Saudi Arabia Studies Issuing Three Banking Licenses, Establishing a Digital Currency


Riyadh – The Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA) expected positive growth rates for the Saudi economy over the upcoming period, confirming that the national economy achieved a 1.7% growth so far, compared to last year’s 3.5%.
SAMA’s report highlighted the non-oil sector maintaining a positive growth process.

The Saudi central bank has received three applications for banking licenses and is processing them is at an advanced stage, central bank governor Ahmed Al-Kholifey told a news conference on Wednesday.

He stressed that the liquidity levels is in a comfortable situation, noting that the institution is working to stabilize the exchange rate.

He explained that there is a study to create a digital currency for the purpose of buying products—however, noted that with the absence of a legal framework for the digital currency there may be risks and multiple consequences entailed.

He also pointed out that Saudi Arabia is currently conducting an evaluation process to obtain permanent membership in the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), saying that the institution carried out the evaluation process in cooperation with a number of other government departments, and will complete its evaluation in June 2018.

FATF is an inter-governmental body established in 1989 by the Ministers of its Member jurisdictions.

The objectives of the FATF are to set standards and promote effective implementation of legal, regulatory and operational measures for combating money laundering, terrorist financing and other related threats to the integrity of the international financial system.

The FATF is, therefore, a “policy-making body” which works to generate the necessary political will to bring about national legislative and regulatory reforms in these areas.

Another central bank official said no more bank mergers were expected.

Alawwal Bank and Saudi British Bank agreed in April to start talks on a possible merger.

Officials painted a highly positive picture of the economy, saying growth was likely to strengthen and they were not worried by deflation.

Kholifey said that in light of indicators in the first half of this year, he expected positive results for economic growth in the coming period.

Another central bank official said the bank was not worried about deflation because consumption was rising.

Officials also said they saw no reason for the riyal to fall in the forward foreign exchange market, that liquidity in the banking system was good, and that there was no concern about banks’ bad loans.

Lebanon’s Association of Banks President: Political Settlement in Syria Promotes Economic Prosperity

Beirut- Association of Banks in Lebanon President Joseph Torbey said the group’s delegation, which visited Washington recently, heard positive remarks acknowledging ABL’s full commitment to the banking sector’s strict regulations.

Torbey confirmed that the delegation met a score of praise for the body’s spent efforts to safeguard the finance and banking sector of the Middle Eastern country, and to counter money laundering, terror funding and tax evasion.

In an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, Torbey reveals that Lebanon is “wisely handling imposed US sanctions” against the country’s ‘Hezbollah’ group.

“I repeatedly said that they (US sanctions) do not target Lebanon’s banking sector.”

He stressed that confidence in the Lebanese banking sector stems mainly from its full compliance with all international standards on combating money laundering and terrorism financing, and enjoys a strict legal, legislative and regulatory framework.

“Lebanese banks are known to play a leading role in employing good governance and risk management standards, and their adherence to various international standards such as Basel I, II, and III– supporting their flexibility and endorsing investor confidence and that of local and foreign depositors. The commitment of Lebanese banks to implement the FATCA (The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act ) also contributes to this confidence,” said Torbey.

Addressing all discouraging rumors on the national currency facing fears of dropping, Torbey said that the central bank’s foreign currency reserves stood at around $43 billion and that Lebanon ranked third in the region in terms of the size of the gold reserves.

“Media outlets have recently echoed opinions saying that the monetary situation in Lebanon is on the brink of abyss—these views were based on studies and figures that the central bank did not take long to refute,” said Torbey.

“Documents and reports belonging to international financial institutions that indicate the opposite of the skeptics were presented, going against negative views,” he added.

“Banque du Liban recently undertook financial engineering (late August) to provide services to banks dealing in Lebanese currency at an interest rate of 2 percent,” said Torbey.

Recently enforced facilities were employed under the conditions designed to strengthen Lebanon’s foreign currency assets and national treasury bonds, further stabilizing national economy.

“These funds are used to purchase Lebanese treasury bonds in primary or secondary markets, and provided that these banks employ equivalent amounts in US dollars with the central bank in the form of deposits with maturities of over five years,” said Torbey.

“The public opinion in Lebanon, as well as that of investors, is formed with awareness and a long-established experience that goes against seasonal negativity,” he told Asharq Al-Awsat.

“Leading economic analysts agree that the factors, which contribute to maintaining the stability and stability of the Lebanese lira’s exchange rate, are stronger than ever.”

“These factors include political stability and security of the country, the existence of a national unity government that seeks to adopt reforms, activate roles played by institutions and, most importantly, the large size of the central bank’s foreign currency reserves.”

He also pointed out that a political settlement in Syria will “play a fundamental role in restoring confidence not only to Syria, but also to countries suffering from the consequences of the Syrian war, such as Lebanon.”

“There is no doubt that the return of stability to neighboring Syria would have a positive effect on Lebanon, whether it be by the reopening of land border crossings for Lebanese exports to regional Arab countries, or through the availability of new investment opportunities,” commented Torbey.

Added to that, the banking official said a political solution in Syria will likely yield in an improved business environment and opportunities for launching new projects.

The solution “may help improve the situation of Lebanese institutions operating in Syria, including banks,” he said.

Commenting on the situation of Syrian refugees, Tarabay said a settlement will speed up the process of returning Syrians to their homes, easing the pressure on Lebanese infrastructure and public finances.

Last March, Prime Minister Saad Hariri said Lebanon was close to “breaking point” due to the strains of hosting 1.5 million Syrian refugees, and he feared unrest could spiral from tensions between them and Lebanese communities.

A political Syrian settlement would result in an increase in the flow of capital and remittances of expats to hosting countries, improve tourism, and encourage domestic and foreign investors, thereby accelerating economic growth.

North Korea’s Secret Weapon? Economic Growth.

North Korea

With the United Nations imposing yet another round of sanctions on North Korea for its nuclear provocations, it’s worth asking why such penalties have been failing for more than a decade. One reason is that the North Korean economy is improving more than is commonly understood — and that will make altering its behavior through trade barriers significantly harder.

The current approach to sanctions is partly based on the assumption that North Korea’s economy is a socialist nightmare, but that’s no longer really true. Although the country is still poor, its gross domestic product grew by an estimated 3.9 percent in 2016, to about $28.5 billion, the fastest pace in 17 years. Wages have risen quickly, and per-capita GDP is now on par with Rwanda, an African economic exemplar.

This progress is partly due to continued trade with China, which remains reluctant to crack down on its neighbor, despite calls for tighter sanctions. Although China agreed in February to ban North Korean coal imports, iron imports have surged and total trade increased by 10.5 percent in the first half of the year, to $2.55 billion.

At the same time, economic reforms made in 2011 have begun to take hold, allowing factory managers to set salaries, find their own suppliers, and hire and fire employees. Farming collectives have been replaced by a family-based management system, which has led to far greater harvests. The government has even come to tolerate private enterprise on a limited basis.

The results are striking. Street vendors, once rare, are now a common site in Pyongyang. Some neighborhoods have new luxury high-rises, modern supermarkets, fashionable shops, and streets busy with Mercedes-Benzes and BMWs. Although the government denies having abandoned the old socialist system, the evidence is undeniable: By some estimates, the private sector now accounts for up to half of GDP.

Meanwhile, given the country’s still-widespread impoverishment, simple improvements in agriculture and natural-disaster management are enough to yield significant new growth. Last year’s impressive GDP gains were due largely to recovery from a bad drought in 2015.

For North Koreans, rising living standards are obviously a good thing. The problem is that the economy still has plenty of room to grow before further progress will require the removal of trade barriers. That means it could be years before new sanctions would hurt enough to cause a significant change in behavior. Until then, the nation’s ideology of self-reliance, known as juche, seems almost plausible.

Kim Jong-un, North Korea’s dictator, looks to be fashioning himself after South Korea’s Park Chung-hee or China’s Deng Xiaoping — that is, as an iron-fisted economic reformist. Despite rampant human-rights violations, Park still stands tall in the memory of many South Koreans for bringing the country into economic maturity. Deng is largely responsible for turning China into the economic powerhouse that it is today. It’s easy to imagine that if Kim’s nuclear arsenal keeps the US military at bay long enough, he’s got a shot at a similar legacy.

Of course, he still faces some enormous challenges, not least being cut off from the global system of trade. Hidebound apparatchiks may object to further reforms, a wealthier public may question the legitimacy of Communist rule in an increasingly capitalist state, and market bubbles could prove destabilizing. But faced with excruciating pressure and scant resources, North Korea has nevertheless been steadily achieving its goals for years. Further economic growth is likely to only help.


US Retail Sales Unexpectedly Fall in August


Washington – US retail sales unexpectedly fell in August, US Commerce Department figures showed Friday.

The Commerce Department said on Friday retail sales dropped 0.2 percent last month. Data for July was revised to show sales increasing 0.3 percent instead of the previously reported 0.6 percent jump.

Retail sales rose by 0.2 percent in August after climbing by 0.4 percent in July. Ex-auto sales had been expected to increase by 0.5 percent.

The Fed said Hurricane Harvey, which hit the Gulf Coast late last month, was responsible for most of the decline by depressing oil drilling, petroleum refining and other industrial activity.

Overall industrial production fell 0.9 percent over the month after a July increase revised upward to 0.4 percent.

Economists polled by Reuters had still expected a 0.1 percent increase in industrial output. The US central bank’s measure of the industrial sector comprises manufacturing, mining, and electric and gas utilities.

Though Harvey was a major force in the decline, helping push down mining output by 0.8 percent, other sectors contributed.

The output of consumer goods fell 0.7 percent as a rise in production of consumer durables was offset by declines in non-durables and consumer energy products. Production of motor vehicles and auto parts rose 2.2 percent.

Utilization of factory capacity fell 0.8 percentage point to 76.1 percent, compared to a revised upward figure of 76.9 percent in July, nearly 4 percentage points below the long run average.

Economists expected the storm to begin showing up in the output figures, but also in general feel those impacts will be offset by future increases.

The Best Era for Working Women Was 20 Years Ago


The working woman was everywhere in 1980s and 1990s pop culture: The tough single gal Murphy Brown ran the news on TV every week. Dolly Parton in “9 to 5,” Melanie Griffith in “Working Girl,” and the ominously coldhearted mother in “Mrs. Doubtfire.”

We didn’t know it then, but that was the apex for the American working woman. It’s fitting that “Murphy Brown” left the airwaves in 1998. It would only be two years later that the share of American women over 16 who are in the labor force would hit its peak: 60.3 percent in April 2000.

The late 1990s — Murphy Brown’s decade — may have been as good as it gets for American women in the workplace.

The steady, seemingly inevitable march of significant numbers of American women into paid jobs began during World War II. Women certainly worked before the war, but it was usually certain groups: women of color, who have almost always had to work, and single women. During and after the war, work suddenly opened for more and more women.

In the decades after, the gender wage gap shrank, women became highly educated and the options for more prestigious careers increased. Widely available contraception allowed women to control when they became pregnant and to invest in their careers. Beginning in the late ’70s, surveys have found increasing shares of Americans accept and even support the idea of women working outside the home.

But then, in the early 2000s, the rise in the share of working women came to a halt. And since the Great Recession the figure has even fallen. Today it’s just over 57 percent.

We’ve spent a lot of time worrying about American men. Their labor force participation trend line has looked like a tumble down the side of a hill since the late 1950s. But all of this time, men have always worked at higher rates than women.

Up until the late 1990s, the United States stood out among developed countries for its higher female labor force participation rate. But that’s when the other countries started to catch up.

“We noticed right away,” said Heidi Hartmann, president of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. Her organization compiles an annual report on the economic status of women in every state, and in 1998 it sent a preview to some people in Vermont. The data showed that women’s labor force participation had fallen in that state, a harbinger of a national trend. The reviewers said “this can’t be right,” she recalled, adding, “We looked at the numbers again and we wrote back and said, ‘It is right.’ ”

Things seem to have changed around the 2001 recession. Until then, women tended to keep their onward march into employment steady even when the economy faltered. If their employment dipped, it quickly recovered. But this was the first time that the share of working women dropped without bouncing back.

A number of things may have coalesced at the time. Women are now getting even more bachelor’s degrees than men. There is much less room for them to keep getting ahead by obtaining degrees.

Husbands’ wages grew faster than wives’ in the 1990s, which may have eventually discouraged married women from staying at work. The gender wage gap has stayed relatively stuck for some time, offering women less incentive to work.

For lower-wage women, work itself has also gotten worse. Research by Robert Moffitt, a Johns Hopkins economist, has found that the decline in women’s labor force participation, especially among lower-educated women, mirrors that of their male peers.

The 1990s were a turning point, Professor Moffitt noted. Every office suddenly had a computer. “It’s an economywide thing,” he said. “It’s not gender-specific.” Just as technology has reduced the number of jobs on factory floors, it has also meant fewer secretaries, bank tellers and retail workers.

The low-wage jobs these laid-off workers found are more likely to come with variable schedules that make it difficult to arrange child care. Work hours have also stretched later and later, which hurts women more.

Even as women pushed their way into the workplace, the United States has done almost nothing to help make it easier for parents to work and raise a family at the same time. Unlike all other developed countries, the United States doesn’t guarantee parents any paid time off when they have children.

Francine Blau and Lawrence Kahn, economists at Cornell University, have found that while the United States had the sixth-highest female labor force participation rate in 1990, by 2010 it had fallen to 17th place. About a third of that drop, they say, could be explained by the fact that other developed countries instituted and expanded policies like paid family leave, subsidized child care and flexible work arrangements while the United States did barely anything at all.

It may very well be that the American women who were in the best position to make it all work — who faced the lowest hurdles to arranging child care and balancing work with family — have made it into the work force, but those who have bigger challenges simply can’t swing it. “A lot of women were able to make do, and those women are in the labor force,” Professor Blau said. “How do the rest come in without some kind of change?”

It’s unlikely that the country has simply hit a ceiling for how many women want jobs. If the United States were to spend more on helping parents get child care, ensure they can take paid time off work and protect those who want or need to work flexible schedules, it would almost certainly tap into this pool of women who have stepped away from work.

Helping them isn’t just something that is nice to do. If women keep getting pushed out, the economy will suffer. In 2012, one analysis found, the economy would have been 11 percent smaller if women’s labor force participation had remained at the levels of the late 1970s.

President Trump has said he wants to reach 3 percent G.D.P. growth. He would do well to focus on increasing how many women work. “He could probably get there much faster,” said Dr. Hartmann of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, “if he tried to do more on equal pay and provided subsidized child care for everyone.”

At his daughter Ivanka’s insistence, he has talked superficially about affordable child care and accessible paid leave, but so far his plans are pretty pathetic. He just took a step backward on closing the wage gap, with Ms. Trump’s blessing, by rescinding a rule requiring businesses to report pay by gender.

This is a man who said in the 1990s — that same decade when working women reached their zenith — that “putting a wife to work is a very dangerous thing.”

He’ll find out how dangerous it is for the economy when the government doesn’t help put all women, married or not, to work.

The New York Times

Saudi Study Says Hajj 2017 Revenues Touch on $4 Bln

Muslim pilgrims pray around the holy Kaaba at the Grand Mosque ahead of the annual haj pilgrimage in Mecca

Dammam- Saudi Arabia, the Arab world’s largest economy, announced that it expects for Hajj revenues to exceed $4.2 billion for this year’s season.

A local study highlighted that the revenues are expected to jump to $5.6 billion in five years due to the ongoing increase in the expenditures of pilgrims. It recommended benefiting from the Hajj season through attracting foreign investments.

Obtained by Asharq Al-Awsat, the study called for maximizing economic benefits by increasing income generated by private sector partnerships from SR80 million to SR190 million riyals ($ 50.67 million).

It also recommended increasing the number of active partnerships with the private sector from 1 percent to 17 percent.

More so, it highlighted the importance to consider the season as a tourism industry with respect to its religious aspects. Pilgrims mainly spend on accommodation, transportation, food and gifts.

Saudi authorities say two million Muslims from across the globe arrive in the kingdom, home to Islam’s holiest site in Makkah, for the hajj pilgrimage.

Hajj is a religious duty and for some pilgrims the journey of a lifetime.

Iranians, Qataris and all Muslims have found themselves welcomed to the Kingdom, as the Gulf nation upholds a long known tradition of diligently serving pilgrims visiting the Kaaba.

Indonesia is the world’s most populous Muslim nation, and it also provides the largest number of pilgrims for the Hajj.

Saudi Arabia said the Hajj 2016 received 1.8 million pilgrims.

The General Authority for Statistics in Saudi Arabia said that the 2017 Hajj has seen a total of 1,862,909 pilgrims, of whom 1,325,372 pilgrims came from outside Saudi Arabia, while the total pilgrims inside totaled 537,537 pilgrims.

Arab League Announces Launching Arab-Indian Joint Commerce Chamber

Cairo- An Arab-Indian Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture was established and launched based on mutual regulations, said the Arab League on Thursday.

The new Arab-Indian joint room was also announced by the Union of Arab Chambers—and was made possible through implementing regulations adopted by both sides. The planned chamber will finance various activities, membership fees along with other resources to achieve its objectives.

The chamber was announced during a press conference held by Ambassador Kamal Hassan Ali, Arab League Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Affairs, and Nael Al Kabariti, President of the General Federation of Arab Chambers of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture.

The Assistant Secretary-General stressed that the Arab-Indian collaboration seeks to support integrating Arab economies and promote joint Arab development through boosting and developing Arab-Indian economic relations.

He also stressed the need to support increased trade and investment, serving the common interests of both sides, and deepening the ties between Arab states and India.

For his part, Kabariti stressed the importance of launching the Indian-Arab Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture, given that “as India has become a key partner and an important economic international player, especially in the development of knowledge.”

Kabariti added that those factors are exactly what Arab countries are looking for, not only at the level of trade and commodity exchange.”

Kabariti said that this chamber is a manifestation of Arab cooperation with regional and international blocs.

The establishment of this chamber is based on Economic and Social Council resolutions 753 and 754 of session 25 held in Cairo in 1978, with the support of the Indian side at official and private levels and the approval of the Indian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.