Business and Economics > Foreign Exchange

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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.
Ms. Marcela Matamoros-Indorf, Ms. Mrinalini Sharma, Mr. Simon Townsend, and Mr. Luis Ignacio Jácome
Using a central bank legislation database, this paper documents and analyzes worldwide institutional arrangements for central bank lending to the government and identifies international practices. Key findings are: (i) in most advanced countries, central banks do not finance government expenditure; (ii) in a large number of emerging and developing countries, short-term financing is allowed in order to smooth out tax revenue fluctuations; (iii) in most countries, the terms and conditions of these loans are typically established by law, such that the amount is capped at a small proportion of annual government revenues, loans are priced at market interest rates, and their maturity falls within the same fiscal year; and (iv) in the vast majority of countries, financing other areas of the state, such as provincial governments and public enterprises, is not allowed. The paper does not address central banks' financial support during financial crises.
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. Bassem M Kamar, Jean-Etienne Carlotti, and Mr. Russell C Krueger
A key issue in creating a new currency union is setting the rates to convert national currencies into the new union currency. Planned unions in the Gulf region and Africa are seeking methods to set the conversion rates when their new currencies are created. We propose a forward-looking econometric methodology to determine conversion rates by calculating the degree of misalignment in the real exchange rate, and apply it to the GCC currency union. For each GCC currency, we identify the year at which the economy is the closest to its internal and external equilibrium, and then estimate the degree of misalignment in the bilateral real exchange rate vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar based on WEO forecasts until 2013. Application of the methodology to other regions is also considered.
Mr. Klaus-Stefan Enders
While the underlying methodologies continue to be widely debated and refined, there is little consensus on how to assess the equilibrium exchange rate of economies dominated by production of finite natural resources such as the oil economies of the Middle East. In part this is due to the importance of intertemporal aspects (as the real exchange rate may affect the optimal/equitable rate of transformation of finite resource wealth into financial assets), as well as risk considerations given the relatively high volatility of commodity prices. The paper illustrates some important peculiarities of the exchange rate assessment for such natural resource producers by working through a simple two-period model that captures certain key aspects of many resource economies.
Ms. Magda E. Kandil and Mrs. Hanan Morsy
Inflationary pressures have heightened in the oil-rich Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) since 2003. This paper studies determinants of inflation in GCC, using an empirical model that includes domestic and external factors. Inflation in major trading partners appears to be the most relevant foreign factor. In addition, oil revenues have reinforced inflationary pressures through growth of credit and aggregate spending. In the short-run, binding capacity constraints also explain higher inflation given increased government spending. Nonetheless, by targeting supply-side bottlenecks, the increase in government spending is easing capacity constraints and will ultimately help to moderate price inflation.
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.
International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.


Regional Economic Outlook: Middle East and Central Asia underlines that the region has continued to experience strong growth in 2008, and the short-term outlook is generally favorable. However, inflation has emerged as a key issue, and while the global credit crunch has thus far had a limited impact on regional financial markets, the financial turmoil and slowdown in developed economies could lower growth in the period ahead. Policies will need to focus on tightening the fiscal and monetary stance where appropriate, with greater exchange rate flexibility, and continuing efforts to strengthen the resilience of financial sectors.

Mr. Bassem M Kamar and Samy Ben Naceur
Coordinating macroeconomic policies is a pre-requisite to a successful launch of the common currency in the GCC countries. Relying on the Behavioral Equilibrium Exchange Rate approach as a theoretical framework, we apply the Pooled Mean Group methodology to determine the similarity of the impact of a selected set of macroeconomic indicators on the real exchange rate in each country. Our empirical evidence points to a clear coordination of monetary policy, fiscal policy, government consumption, and openness across the member countries. While RER misalignments also show a substantial convergence building over time, differences in the misalignments of the two polar cases remain rather substantial, calling for further coordination and policy harmonization.
Mr. Behrouz Guerami, Mr. S. Nuri Erbas, and Mr. George T. Abed
We compare the dollar peg to a dollar-euro basket peg as alternative exchange rate regimes for the incipient Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) currency union. Quantitative evidence suggests basket peg does not dominate dollar peg for improving external stability. However, as GCC exports and external financial assets become more diversified, a more flexible exchange policy may be necessary for competitiveness and stability. Pegging the prospective common GCC currency to a basket, like the dollar-euro basket, may provide a conservative transitional strategy toward a more flexible exchange rate policy.