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International Monetary Fund
GCC policymakers moved quickly to mitigate the health and economic impacts of twin COVID-19 and oil price shocks. Infection rates have declined across the GCC to well below previous peaks, though countries have experienced successive waves of the virus, and economic recoveries have begun to take hold. Nevertheless, GCC policymakers must navigate a challenging and uncertain landscape. The pandemic continues to cloud the global outlook as countries are in different phases of recovery, with varied growth prospects and policy space
Aissatou Diallo
Many Sub-Saharan African (SSA) countries, like Benin, have scaled up public investment during the last decade. Such a strategy contributed to the improvement of infrastructure, but also to a build-up of debt vulnerabilities. Looking forward, the planned fiscal consolidation will result in some restraint of public spending, and, in particular, public investment. In this context, maintaining or even raising the region’s economic growth will require an offset by the private sector. The analysis draws lessons from countries that have successfully transitioned from public investment to private investment-led growth using a global sample starting in the mid-1980s. These lessons highlight policies that have been crucial in fostering a rebound of private investment in the wake of a contraction of public investment. The analytical framework proposed by Hausman, Rodrik and Velasco (2005) is used to identify and classify such policies. Finally, the paper analyses how the identified policies could help Benin achieving a smooth transition from public to private sector-led growth.
International Monetary Fund. African Dept.
This Selected Issues paper discusses a growth-at-risk (GaR) model which is used to compute a distribution of expected GDP growth for Benin. The model predicts growth rates of ~6.7 percent for 2019 and a range of 6.4–6.8 percent in the medium-term (depending on the specification). Risks to future growth are assessed to be tilted to the downside. 2019 GDP growth is estimated around 6.7 percent, on average, across several specifications. The model considers external factors (world trade, global financial conditions, trade policy uncertainty, and US consumer sentiment), country-specific exposures to external factors (commodity terms of trade and trade-partner growth), and domestic factors (domestic financial conditions, fiscal policy, and the exchange rate). The analysis reveals that growth projections estimated both for the median and mode are slightly higher conditioned on 2018 data, yet when expectations about 2019 are considered using World Economic Outlook projections they fall. Overall, risks seem to be tilted to the downside. Medium term growth is estimated at between 6.4 and 6.8 percent. Risks to growth remain tilted to the downside, yet less skewed than in the short term.
International Monetary Fund
Energy prices in the GCC countries are low by international standards. These low prices have co-existed with rapid economic development in the region over the past 50 years, but the costs of this policy have also risen in terms of very high energy usage per capita. Providing energy at low prices has also effectively absorbed resources that could otherwise have been invested in human and physical capital or saved for future generations. The implicit cost of low energy prices in the GCC, in terms of foregone revenue, is estimated to be around 5 percent of GDP (about 8 percent of non-oil GDP) this year. GCC countries have been embarking on energy price reform in recent years. The recent decision of the UAE to remove fuel subsidies is an important initiative. Nevertheless, energy prices are generally still below international levels and differ substantially across the GCC countries. In most countries, further steps are needed to raise energy prices to reduce the growth in energy consumption and to support the fiscal adjustment that is necessary in the current lower oil price environment. Evidence in this paper suggests the inflationary impact of higher energy prices in the GCC is likely to be small, and while there may be some adverse effect on growth in the near-term, over the longer-term the growth benefits should be positive. Given the low weight of energy products in the CPI, first round effects of higher energy prices should be limited, while well anchored inflation expectations should help prevent second-round effects. On growth, a gradual increase in energy prices should have a manageable impact on industrial activity, although energy intensive industries will be adversely affected and will need to adjust. In the longer-term energy price reforms could generate significant permanent real income gains for the economy as a whole. More broadly, international experiences suggest that the likelihood of success with energy price reforms increases if the reforms are
Risto Herrala and Rima Turk-Ariss
We investigate the complex interactions between credit constraints, political instability, and capital accumulation using a novel approach based on Kiyotaki and Moore’s (1997) theoretical framework. Drawing on a unique firm-level data set from Middle-East and North Africa (MENA), empirical findings point to a large and significant effect of credit conditions on capital accumulation and suggest that continued political unrest worsens credit constraints. The results support the view that financial development measured by a relaxing of financial constraints is key to macroeconomic development.
International Monetary Fund
This supplement provides case studies of how countries around the world have addressed jobs and growth challenges, and how Fund staff have helped in this. The studies are meant to provide cross country experience. They share a broad structure, organized around four questions: ? What was the initial situation regarding growth, employment, and income distribution? ? What policy measures were implemented to enhance growth and employment and to even out the distribution of income? Were potential complementarities or trade-offs between enhancing growth, employment, and income distribution considered? ? How did Fund staff help the authorities? For example, in which areas did staff help the authorities analyze issues, how did staff go about analyzing issues, and what were the main considerations that shaped staff’s recommendations? ? What were the results of policy actions taken?
International Monetary Fund
This Selected Issues and Statistical Appendix paper on Kuwait focuses on recent development in investment companies (ICs) and the business environment in the country. ICs continue to be vulnerable to swings in financial and real estate markets. They continue to have large exposures to domestic, regional, and international equity and real estate markets. Local banks’ lending to ICs declined in 2010–11 owing to banks’ write-offs of ICs loans. The financial situation of many ICs remains precarious, and there are 15 listed investment companies in a dire situation.
Mr. Serhan Cevik
This paper investigates the empirical characteristics of business cycles and the extent of cyclical comovement in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, using various measures of synchronization for non-hydrocarbon GDP and constituents of aggregate demand during the period 1990-2010. By applying the Christiano-Fitzgerald asymmetric band-pass filter and a mean corrected concordance index, the paper identifies the degree of non-hydrocarbon business cycle synchronization?one of the main prerequisites for countries considering to establish a monetary union. The empirical results show low and heterogeneous synchronization in non-hydrocarbon business cycles across the GCC economies, and a decline in the degree of synchronicity in the 2000s, if Kuwait is excluded from the sample, partly because of divergent fiscal policies.