Middle East and Central Asia > Bahrain, Kingdom of

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Mr. Maximilien Queyranne, Romain Lafarguette, and Kubi Johnson
This paper investigates inflation risks for 12 Middle East and Central Asia countries, with an equal share of commodities exporters and importers. The empirical strategy leverages the recent developments in the estimation of macroeconomic risks and uses a semi-parametric approach that balances well flexibility and robustness for density projections. The paper uncovers interesting features of inflation dynamics in the region, including the role of backward versus forward-looking drivers, non-linearities, and heterogeneous and delayed exchange rate pass-through. The results have important implications for the conduct of monetary policy and central bank communication in the Middle East and Central Asia and emerging markets in general.
Berkay Akyapi, Mr. Matthieu Bellon, and Emanuele Massetti
A growing literature estimates the macroeconomic effect of weather using variations in annual country-level averages of temperature and precipitation. However, averages may not reveal the effects of extreme events that occur at a higher time frequency or higher spatial resolution. To address this issue, we rely on global daily weather measurements with a 30-km spatial resolution from 1979 to 2019 and construct 164 weather variables and their lags. We select a parsimonious subset of relevant weather variables using an algorithm based on the Least Absolute Shrinkage and Selection Operator. We also expand the literature by analyzing weather impacts on government revenue, expenditure, and debt, in addition to GDP per capita. We find that an increase in the occurrence of high temperatures and droughts reduce GDP, whereas more frequent mild temperatures have a positive impact. The share of GDP variations that is explained by weather as captured by the handful of our selected variables is much higher than what was previously implied by using annual temperature and precipitation averages. We also find evidence of counter-cyclical fiscal policies that mitigate adverse weather shocks, especially excessive or unusually low precipitation episodes.
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