Middle East and Central Asia > Iraq

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Mr. Nooman Rebei and Rashid Sbia
This paper documents the determinants of real oil price in the global market based on SVAR model embedding transitory and permanent shocks on oil demand and supply as well as speculative disturbances. We find evidence of significant differences in the propagation mechanisms of transitory versus permanent shocks, pointing to the importance of disentangling their distinct effects. Permanent supply disruptions turn out to be a bigger factor in historical oil price movements during the most recent decades, while speculative shocks became less influential.
International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.
This Selected Issues paper discusses the choice and design of rules for Iraq, guided by fiscal policy priorities and the country’s institutional capacity. A ceiling on current spending is proposed as a fiscal rule that would be simple and easy to monitor and support efforts to create space for scaling up capital expenditure, build fiscal buffers to reduce fiscal policy procyclicality, and help secure debt sustainability. A strong policy framework can help Iraq manage the challenges arising from its heavy dependence on volatile oil revenues. The procyclicality of fiscal policy has led to short-term economic volatility and hindered long term development. Important fiscal institutions such as fiscal rules, stabilization funds, and fiscal responsibility laws that exist in many resource-rich countries are lacking in Iraq. Moving to a risk- and rules-based approach can be part of the new policy framework and would be timely. The two main building blocks of this approach involve anchoring fiscal policy on maintaining adequate fiscal buffers, and introducing operational fiscal rules designed to achieve this target for buffers and protect capital expenditure.
International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.
This 2019 Article IV Consultation and Proposal for Post-Program Monitoring highlights that Iraq’s social conditions remain harsh following the war with ISIS, with slow progress at reconstruction, weak public services and a lack of job opportunities. In the absence of policy changes, a widening budget deficit is expected to divert resources away from essential investment to rebuild the country and improve public services, while eroding reserves and posing risks to medium-term sustainability. Expenditure rigidities and limited fiscal buffers imply a significant vulnerability to oil price shocks in a context of volatile prices. The fiscal and external positions are expected to continue to deteriorate over the medium term absent policy changes—with reserves falling below adequate levels and fiscal buffers eroded. In a context of highly volatile oil prices, the major risk to the outlook is a fall in oil prices which would lower exports and budgetary revenues, leading to an even sharper decline in reserves or higher public debt. Geopolitical tensions, the potential for social unrest in a context of weak public services and lack of progress in combatting corruption pose further risks.
International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.
Iraq is an oil-dependent and state-dominated fragile economy that has been hit hard by the conflict with ISIS and the fall in oil prices. The conflict has hurt the economy through displacement and impoverishment of millions of people, and destruction of infrastructure and assets. The oil price decline has resulted in a massive reduction in budget revenue, pushing the fiscal deficit to an unsustainable level. The authorities are responding to the crisis with ambitious but necessary fiscal adjustment while maintaining their commitment to the exchange rate peg, which provides a key nominal anchor in a highly uncertain environment.
International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.
This 2017 Article IV Consultation highlights a double shock facing Iraq as a result of the conflict with the Islamic State and the plunge in oil prices. In 2016, real GDP increased by 11 percent owing to a 25 percent increase in oil production, which was little affected by the conflict with the Islamic State. Falling oil prices have driven the decline in Iraq’s international reserves from $54 billion at the end of 2015 to $45 billion at the end of 2016. Medium-term growth prospects are positive. Growth will be driven by the projected moderate increase in oil production and the rebound in non-oil growth supported by the expected improvement in security and implementation of structural reform.
International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.
This 2017 Article IV Consultation highlights that Jordan has made significant progress since the 2014 Article IV Consultation but pressing challenges remain. The gradual pick-up in growth from 2010 to 2014 ended in 2015, with real GDP growth decelerating from 2.4 percent in 2015 to 2 percent in 2016. Labor market conditions have remained challenging, particularly for youth and women, with the unemployment rate increasing to 15.8 percent in the second half of 2016. Despite considerable progress and recent improvements, the outlook remains challenging. Real GDP growth is projected to reach 2.3 percent in 2017, while inflation is expected to stabilize at about 2.5 percent by year-end.
International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.
This paper discusses Iraq’s First and Second Reviews of the Staff-Monitored Program (SMP) and Request for a Three-Year Stand-By Arrangement. The oil price decline has resulted in a massive reduction in Iraq’s budget revenue, pushing the fiscal deficit to an unsustainable level. The authorities are responding to the crisis with a mix of necessary fiscal adjustment and financing, maintaining their commitment to the exchange rate peg. The authorities started an SMP in November 2015 to establish a track record of policy credibility and pave the way to a possible IMF financing arrangement. Their performance under the SMP has been broadly satisfactory.
Mr. Alberto Behar and Robert A Ritz
In November 2014, OPEC announced a new strategy geared towards improving its market share. Oil-market analysts interpreted this as an attempt to squeeze higher-cost producers including US shale oil out of the market. Over the next year, crude oil prices crashed, with large repercussions for the global economy. We present a simple equilibrium model that explains the fundamental market factors that can rationalize such a "regime switch" by OPEC. These include: (i) the growth of US shale oil production; (ii) the slowdown of global oil demand; (iii) reduced cohesiveness of the OPEC cartel; (iv) production ramp-ups in other non-OPEC countries. We show that these qualitative predictions are broadly consistent with oil market developments during 2014-15. The model is calibrated to oil market data; it predicts accommodation up to 2014 and a market-share strategy thereafter, and explains large oil-price swings as well as realistically high levels of OPEC output.
International Monetary Fund
countries face similar challenges to create jobs and foster more inclusive growth. The current environment of likely durable low oil prices has exacerbated these challenges. The non-oil private sector remains relatively small and, consequently, has been only a limited source of growth and employment. Because oil is an exhaustible resource, new sectors need to be developed so they can take over as the oil and gas industry dwindles. Over-reliance on oil also exacerbates macroeconomic volatility. Greater economic diversification would unlock job-creating growth, increase resilience to oil price volatility and improve prospects for future generations. Macro-economic stability and supportive regulatory and institutional frameworks are key prerequisites for economic diversification...