Middle East and Central Asia > United Arab Emirates

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Ms. Dora Benedek, Mr. Edward R Gemayel, Mr. Abdelhak S Senhadji, and Alexander F. Tieman
The COVID-19 pandemic hit countries’ development agendas hard. The ensuing recession has pushed millions into extreme poverty and has shrunk government resources available for spending on achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This Staff Discussion Note assesses the current state of play on funding SDGs in five key development areas: education, health, roads, electricity, and water and sanitation, using a newly developed dynamic macroeconomic framework.
Mr. Alfred Kammer, Mr. Mohamed Norat, Mr. Marco A. Piñón-Farah, Mr. Ananthakrishnan Prasad, Mr. Christopher M Towe, and Mr. Zeine Zeidane
The SDN discusses the main policy issues and challenges in building an inclusive and safe Islamic finance industry, with emphasis on Islamic banking and Sukuk markets. To this end, it discuses why Islamic finance matters, taking into account its recent and prospective growth; and, its potential contributions in terms of financial inclusion, support for small- and medium-sized enterprises and investment in public infrastructure and, in principle, reduced systemic risk. It then covers a range of regulatory and other challenges, and offers policy advice, to address factors that hamper the development of the industry and, more generally, the delivery of its potential benefits. The paper covers regulatory and supervisory issues, safety nets and resolution frameworks, access to finance, Sukuk markets, and macroeconomic policies.
Mr. Tim Callen, Reda Cherif, Fuad Hasanov, Mr. Amgad Hegazy, and Padamja Khandelwal
Abstract: The economies of the six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries are heavily reliant on oil. Greater economic diversification would reduce their exposure to volatility and uncertainty in the global oil market, help create jobs in the private sector, increase productivity and sustainable growth, and help create the non-oil economy that will be needed in the future when oil revenues start to dwindle. The GCC countries have followed many of the standard policies that are usually thought to promote more diversified economies, including reforms to improve the business climate, the development of domestic infrastructure, financial deepening, and improvements in education. Nevertheless, success to date has been limited. This paper argues that increased diversification will require realigning incentives for firms and workers in the economies—fixing these incentives is the “missing link” in the GCC countries’ diversification strategies. At present, producing non-tradables is less risky and more profitable for firms as they can benefit from the easy availability of low-wage foreign labor and the rapid growth in government spending, while the continued availability of high-paying and secure public sector jobs discourages nationals from pursuing entrepreneurship and private sector employment. Measures to begin to address these incentive issues could include limiting and reorienting government spending, strengthening private sector competition, providing guarantees and financial support for those firms engaged in export activity, and implementing labor market reforms to make nationals more competitive for private sector employment.
Ms. Zsofia Arvai, Mr. Ananthakrishnan Prasad, and Mr. Kentaro Katayama
As undiversified commodity exporters, GCC economies are prone to pro-cyclical systemic risk in the financial system. During periods of high hydrocarbon prices, favorable economic prospects make the financial sector keen to lend, leading to higher domestic credit growth and easier access to external financing. Fiscal policy is a very important tool for macroeconomic management, but due to the significant time lags and expenditure rigidities, it has not been a flexible enough tool to prevent credit booms and the build-up of systemic risk in the GCC. This, together with limited monetary policy independence because of the pegged exchange rate, means that macro-prudential policy has a particularly important role in limiting systemic risk in the financial system. This importance is reinforced by the underdeveloped financial markets in the region that provide limited risk management tools and shortcomings in crisis resolution frameworks. This paper will discuss the importance of macro-prudential policy in the GCC countries, look at the experience with macro-prudential policies in the boom/bust cycle in the second half of the 2000s, and use the broad frameworks being developed in the Fund and elsewhere to discuss ways existing frameworks and policy toolkits in the region can be strengthened given the characteristics of the GCC economies.