Middle East and Central Asia > Bahrain, Kingdom of

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Abdullah Al-Hassan, Imen Benmohamed, Aidyn Bibolov, Giovanni Ugazio, and Ms. Tian Zhang
The Gulf Cooperation Council region faced a significant economic toll from the COVID-19 pandemic and oil price shocks in 2020. Policymakers responded to the pandemic with decisive and broad measures to support households and businesses and mitigate the long-term impact on the economy. Financial vulnerabilities have been generally contained, reflecting ongoing policy support and the rebound in economic activity and oil prices, as well as banks entering the COVID-19 crisis with strong capital, liquidity, and profitability. The banking systems remained well-capitalized, but profitability and asset quality were adversely affected. Ongoing COVID-19 policy support could also obscure deterioration in asset quality. Policymakers need to continue to strike a balance between supporting recovery and mitigating risks to financial stability, including ensuring that banks’ buffers are adequate to withstand prolonged pandemic and withdrawal of COVID-related policy support measures. Addressing data gaps would help policymakers to further assess vulnerabilities and mitigate sectoral risks.
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
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.
Padamja Khandelwal, Mr. Ken Miyajima, and Mr. Andre O Santos
This paper examines the links between global oil price movements and macroeconomic and financial developments in the GCC. Using a range of multivariate panel approaches, including a panel vector autoregression approach, it finds strong empirical evidence of feedback loops between oil price movements, bank balance sheets, and asset prices. Empirical evidence also suggests that bank capital and provisioning have behaved countercyclically through the cycle.
International Monetary Fund
This paper proposes a further six-month extension of the period for consent to increase quotas under the Fourteenth General Review of Quotas. The current deadline is due to expire on December 31, 2015, however, Board of Governors Resolution No. 66-2 provides that the Executive Board may extend the period for consent as it may determine. An extension under Resolution No. 66-2 will also extend the periods of consent for quota increases under the 2008 Reform of Quota and Voice (Resolution No. 63-2) and the Eleventh General Review of Quotas (Resolution No. 53-2). As of December 14, 2015, 21 members have not yet consented to their proposed quota increases under Resolution No. 66-2 (see Appendix I). Once the conditions for effectiveness of the individual quota increases are met, members may then pay for their quota increases to make them effective.
International Monetary Fund
This paper proposes a further six-month extension of the period for consent to increase quotas under the Fourteenth General Review of Quotas. The current deadline is due to expire on June 30, 2015; however, Board of Governor’s Resolution No. 66-2 provides that the Executive Board may extend the period for consent as it may determine. An extension under Resolution No. 66-2 will also extend the periods of consent for quota increases under the 2008 Reform of Quota and Voice (Resolution No. 63-2) and the Eleventh General Review of Quotas (Resolution No. 53-2). As of June 10, 2015, 24 members have not yet consented to their proposed quota increases under Resolution No. 66-2 (see Appendix I). Once the conditions for effectiveness of the individual quota increases are met, members may then pay for their quota increases to make them effective.
International Monetary Fund
This paper proposes a further six-month extension of the period for consent to increase quotas under the Fourteenth General Review of Quotas. The current deadline is due to expire on December 31, 2014; however, Board of Governor’s Resolution No. 66-2 provides that the Executive Board may extend the period for consent as it may determine. An extension under Resolution No. 66-2 will also extend the periods of consent for quota increases under the 2008 Reform of Quota and Voice (Resolution No. 63-2) and the Eleventh General Review of Quotas (Resolution No. 53- 2).
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.