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International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.
Saudi Arabia has begun a fundamental policy shift to respond to low oil prices. The government has introduced a series of reforms over the past year and has recently set out plans for a bold and ambitious transformation of the Saudi Arabian economy in Vision 2030 and the National Transformation Program. Diversifying the economy, creating jobs for nationals in the private sector, and implementing a gradual, but sizable and sustained fiscal consolidation are key policy priorities.
International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.
This 2016 Article IV Consultation highlights that real GDP growth in Saudi Arabia is expected to slow to 1.2 percent in 2016, but recover to 2 percent in 2017 as the pace of fiscal consolidation eases. Inflation has risen in recent months to more than 4 percent owing to increase in energy and water prices. Bank deposits have declined, but growth of credit to the private sector remains strong. Capital buffers are high, nonperforming loans low, and banks are well provisioned against loan losses. The current account deficit is projected to narrow to 6.4 percent of GDP in 2016 and then move close to balance by 2021 as oil prices partial recover.
Mr. Serhan Cevik and Ms. Katerina Teksoz
This paper empirically investigates the effectiveness of monetary policy transmission in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries using a structural vector autoregressive model. The results indicate that the interest rate and bank lending channels are relatively effective in influencing non-hydrocarbon output and consumer prices, while the exchange rate channel does not appear to play an important role as a monetary transmission mechanism because of the pegged exchange rate regimes. The empirical analysis suggests that policy measures and structural reforms - strengthening financial intermediation and facilitating the development of liquid domestic capital markets - would advance the effectiveness of monetary transmission mechanisms in the GCC countries.
Mr. Ananthakrishnan Prasad and Mr. Raphael A Espinoza
The GCC countries maintain a policy of open capital accounts and a pegged (or nearly-pegged) exchange rate, thereby reducing their freedom to run an independent monetary policy. This paper shows, however, that the pass-through of policy rates to retail rates is on the low side, reflecting the shallowness of money markets and the manner in which GCC central banks operate. In addition to policy rates, the GCC monetary authorities use reserve requirements, loan-to-deposit ratios, and other macroprudential tools to affect liquidity and credit. Nonetheless, a panel vector auto regression model suggests that U.S. monetary policy has a strong and statistically significant impact on broad money, non-oil activity, and inflation in the GCC region. Unanticipated shocks to broad money also affect prices but do not stimulate growth. Continued efforts to develop the domestic financial markets will increase interest rate pass-through and strengthen monetary policy transmission.
Mr. Oral Williams and Mr. Kamiar Mohaddes
This paper uses a pairwise approach to investigate the main factors that have been driving inflation differentials in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region for the past two decades. The results suggest that inflation differentials in the GCC are largely influenced by the oil cycle, mainly through the credit and fiscal channels. This implies that closer coordination of fiscal policies will be key for facilitating the closer integration of the GCC economies and ahead of the move to a monetary union. The results also indicate that after controlling for cyclical factors, convergence increased even during the recent oil boom.
Mr. Robin D Kibuka and Mr. Charles Enoch
The paper reviews the developments in the last 12 years that have influenced the evolution of the IMF's General Data Dissemination System, leading to reforms to enhance its role. The GDDS itself is part of a broader IMF Data Standards Initiative launched in 1996 to help address macroeconomic data deficiencies, which contributed to the emerging economies' financial crisis during the early 1990s. The review takes stock of the experience with statistical technical assistance provided to member countries and the ongoing reforms, within and outside the IMF, to strengthen the GDDS. Such reforms are particularly relevant in the context of the ongoing economic and financial crisis, which once again underscores the role of statistics in guiding policymakers to strengthen defenses against future crises.
Mr. Heiko Hesse and Mr. Tigran Poghosyan
This paper analyzes the relationship between oil price shocks and bank profitability. Using data on 145 banks in 11 oil-exporting MENA countries for 1994-2008, we test hypotheses of direct and indirect effects of oil price shocks on bank profitability. Our results indicate that oil price shocks have indirect effect on bank profitability, channeled through country-specific macroeconomic and institutional variables, while the direct effect is insignificant. Investment banks appear to be the most affected ones compared to Islamic and commercial banks. Our findings highlight systemic implications of oil price shocks on bank performance and underscore their importance for macroprudential regulation purposes in MENA countries.
Abdullah Al-Hassan
This paper constructs a coincident indicator for the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) area business cycle. The resulting coincident indicator provides a reliable measure of the GCC business cycle; over the last decade, the GCC coincident index and the real GDP growth have moved closely together. Since the indicator is constructed using a small number of common factors, the strong correlation between the indicator and real GDP growth points to a high degree of commonality across GCC economies. The timing and direction of movements in macroeconomic variables are characterized with respect to the coincident indicator. Finally, to obtain a meaningful economic interpretation of the latent factors, their behavior is compared to the observed economic variables.
Ms. Faezeh Raei and Mr. Selim Cakir
This paper assesses the impact of bonds issued according to Islamic principles (Sukuk), on the cost and risk structure of investment portfolios by using the Value-at-Risk (VaR) framework. The market for Sukuk has grown tremendously in recent years at about 45 percent a year. Sukuk provide sovereign governments and corporations with access to the huge and growing Islamic liquidity pool, in addition to the conventional investor base. The paper analyzes whether secondary market behavior of Eurobonds and Sukuk issued by the same issuer are significantly different to provide gains from diversification. The analysis, employing the delta-normal as well as Monte-Carlo simulation methods, implies such gains are present and in certain cases very significant.
Mr. Russell C Krueger and Ettore Kovarich
Looking ahead to the creation of a Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Currency Union in 2010, the paper covers some implications for the statistical programs of the GCC countries. Despite uncertainty over the structure of the proposed union, the paper envisions several types of mutually reinforcing statistics-convergence criteria, statistics on the core policy variables and instruments, additional macroeconomic data, specialized statistics related to the economic and institutional conditions within the union, and public information. Major changes to national statistical programs are needed that should begin soon.