Middle East and Central Asia > Oman

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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.
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.
Pierpaolo Grippa and Lucyna Gornicka
Concentration risk is an important feature of many banking sectors, especially in emerging and small economies. Under the Basel Framework, Pillar 1 capital requirements for credit risk do not cover concentration risk, and those calculated under the Internal Ratings Based (IRB) approach explicitly exclude it. Banks are expected to compensate for this by autonomously estimating and setting aside appropriate capital buffers, which supervisors are required to assess and possibly challenge within the Pillar 2 process. Inadequate reflection of this risk can lead to insufficient capital levels even when the capital ratios seem high. We propose a flexible technique, based on a combination of “full” credit portfolio modeling and asymptotic results, to calculate capital requirements for name and sector concentration risk in banks’ portfolios. The proposed approach lends itself to be used in bilateral surveillance, as a potential area for technical assistance on banking supervision, and as a policy tool to gauge the degree of concentration risk in different banking systems.
Mr. Raphael A Espinoza and Mr. Ananthakrishnan Prasad
According to a dynamic panel estimated over 1995 - 2008 on around 80 banks in the GCC region, the NPL ratio worsens as economic growth becomes lower and interest rates and risk aversion increase. Our model implies that the cumulative effect of macroeconomic shocks over a three year horizon is indeed large. Firm-specific factors related to risk-taking and efficiency are also related to future NPLs. The paper finally investigates the feedback effect of increasing NPLs on growth using a VAR model. According to the panel VAR, there could be a strong, albeit short-lived feedback effect from losses in banks’ balance sheets on economic activity, with a semi-elasticity of around 0.4.