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International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.

Abstract

Oil drilling platform at the Kashagan oil field on the Caspian shelf in western Kazakhstan, by STR/Reuters Photo Archive.

International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.

Abstract

The Middle East and Central Asia region is undergoing a remarkable transformation, driven by rapid GDP growth, which is set to outpace global growth for the eighth year in a row. Helped by continuing high oil and non-oil commodity prices, and despite increased uncertainties in global financial markets, growth in the region is projected to stay in the 6–7 percent range in 2008. All parts of the region are doing well, with growth in the Caucasus and Central Asia projected to be especially strong at 11 percent, the fourth year of double-digit growth. Unemployment remains a big concern, however, especially in the Maghreb countries, 1 where more moderate growth of 5–6 percent is expected.

International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.

Abstract

With relatively limited links to global financial markets, the Middle Eastern Oil Importers (MEOIs) have generally escaped the ravages of the global financial crisis. As the global recession deepens, however, MEOIs face weaker prospects for exports, foreign direct investment (FDI), tourism, and remittances. Consequently, MEOI growth is slowing too, but with a lag and more moderately than in advanced economies, and financial sectors in MEOIs are becoming more vulnerable. Most governments are unable to respond with significant fiscal stimulus owing to the limited fiscal space available. As a result, unemployment and poverty could rise substantially—with adverse implications for social stability. Therefore, in low-income countries, an increase in donor financing will be necessary to maintain aggregate demand and enhance social safety nets.

International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.

Abstract

The global downturn is taking a toll on the Caucasus and Central Asia (CCA) region. Growth is expected to almost come to a halt this year, and current account and fiscal balances are moving toward deficit. While linkages to international financial markets are weak in most countries, the global economic crisis is being transmitted to the region via falling commodity prices, declining export demand, and lower remittance inflows, particularly from Russia. Policies should focus on providing support to growth and safeguarding financial systems, while managing external adjustment.

International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.

Abstract

The global crisis is now affecting the countries in the Middle East and Central Asia region, and economic and financial vulnerabilities are rising. In the Middle East and North Africa, good economic fundamentals, appropriate policy responses, and sizable currency reserves are helping mitigate the impact of the shock. In the Caucasus and Central Asia, lower commodity prices and adverse economic developments in Russia have hit hard. The report notes that countries should prepare for the contingency of a prolonged global slowdown by supporting domestic demand for a longer period and strengthening financial systems further. In some countries with rising unemployment, it will be important to target government resources and policies on protecting the poor; in others, increased donor support will be necessary to maintain needed economic development.

International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.

Abstract

The global crisis has affected the MEOEs mainly through the sharp fall in oil prices and the tightening of credit conditions. Despite the decline in oil revenues, most countries of the group are maintaining capital spending at a high level. This spending is providing an important stimulus to global demand, but will result in a turnaround in MEOEs’ external positions from a massive collective surplus of $400 billion last year to a deficit of $10 billion in 2009. With credit to the private sector declining and financial risks rising, the authorities have acted swiftly and forcefully to ease domestic liquidity conditions and support banking systems. In view of the downside risks to the outlook, especially of a prolonged global recession and/or deteriorating balance sheets in MEOE financial sectors, countries need to enhance oversight of the financial system and support economic activity while preserving fiscal sustainability.

International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.

Abstract

The Middle East and Central Asia is undergoing a remarkable transformation driven by rapid GDP growth and high oil and non-oil commodity prices. The report presents common economic trends and reviews prospects and policies for the coming year in light of the global economic environment. This latest REO includes boxes treating both regional topics--such as growth in the Maghreb countries; developments in the oil markets; the boom in the GCC countries, and the impact of the recent global credit squeeze on the region--and country-specific reviews, of Kazakhstan, Armenia, Egypt, Pakistan, and the UAE.