Middle East and Central Asia > Kuwait

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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. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to impose severe social and economic hardships in Mauritania, with a sharp contraction of output expected in 2020. The authorities have responded swiftly to the shock with measures to contain the pandemic and alleviate its fallout. They are prioritizing health spending and targeted support to the most vulnerable households and sectors in the economy. Nevertheless, conditions have weakened since the emergency disbursement under the Rapid Credit Facility in April 2020 (SDR 95.68 million, about US$130 million or 74.3 percent of quota) and wider external and fiscal financing gaps are projected.
International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to impose severe social and economic hardships in Mauritania, with a sharp contraction of output expected in 2020. The authorities have responded swiftly to the shock with measures to contain the pandemic and alleviate its fallout. They are prioritizing health spending and targeted support to the most vulnerable households and sectors in the economy. Nevertheless, conditions have weakened since the emergency disbursement under the Rapid Credit Facility in April 2020 (SDR 95.68 million, about US$130 million or 74.3 percent of quota) and wider external and fiscal financing gaps are projected.
Andreas Jobst and Mr. Juan Sole
This paper provides a conceptual overview of key aspects of the design and implementation of solvency stress testing of Islamic banks. Based on existing regulatory standards and prudential practice, the paper explains how Islamic finance principles and their impact on various risk drivers affect the capital assessment of asset-oriented financial intermediation under stress. The formal specification of these risk factors helps operationalize and integrate the stress testing of Islamic banks within established frameworks for financial stability analysis.
International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.
This 2020 Article IV Consultation with Kuwait highlights that non-oil growth strengthened to estimated 3 percent in 2019, propelled by government and consumer spending. The challenge to reduce dependence on oil and boost savings has become more urgent. The subdued forecast for oil revenues is weighing on near-term growth and fiscal and external balances. Embedding fiscal measures in a comprehensive reform package that promotes private sector growth, strengthens governance and accountability, and improves public services would help build broad support for reforms. A rules-based fiscal framework would improve management of oil revenues. A rule-based framework would help anchor fiscal policy on a long-term objective of intergenerational equity. It should include a well-calibrated operational rule that helps reconcile long-term savings and near-term economic stabilization objectives. Financial sector reforms should focus on bolstering resilience and deepening inclusion. Sustaining reforms to foster private sector-led and diversified growth will be critical. With limited scope for public employment going forward, a vibrant private sector must emerge to absorb the large number of Kuwaitis entering the labor market in coming years.
Mr. George M Kabwe, Elie Chamoun, Riaan van Greuning, Mowele Mohlala, and Ms. Julia Cardoso
Safeguards assessments are a key pillar of the risk management arrangements for IMF lending. Safeguards assessments aim to mitigate the risks of misuse of Fund resources and misreporting of program monetary data under Fund arrangements. Safeguards assessment reports are confidential and therefore the IMF Executive Board is provided with a periodic report on safeguards activities on a biennial basis, in addition to high-level summaries in member country staff reports on key findings and recommendations. This update on safeguards activity covers the period May 2017 to end-April 2019 (the period).
Mr. Olumuyiwa S Adedeji, Yacoub Alatrash, and Mr. Divya Kirti
Given their pegged exchange rate regimes, Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries usually adjust their policy rates to match shifting U.S. monetary policy. This raises the important question of how changes in U.S. monetary policy affect banks in the GCC. We use bank-level panel data, exploiting variation across banks within countries, to isolate the impact of changing U.S. interest rates on GCC banks funding costs, asset rates, and profitability. We find stronger pass-through from U.S. monetary policy to liability rates than to asset rates and bank profitability, largely reflecting funding structures. In addition, we explore the role of shifts in the quantity of bank liabilities as policy rates change and the role of large banks with relatively stable funding costs to explain these findings.