Middle East and Central Asia > Oman

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Mr. Olumuyiwa S Adedeji, Mr. Sohaib Shahid, and Ling Zhu
This paper examines real and financial linkages between Saudi Arabia and other GCC countries. Growth spillovers from Saudi Arabia to Bahrain are found to be sizeable and statistically significant, but those to other GCC countries are not found to be significant. Equity market movements in Saudi Arabia are found to have significant implications for other GCC countries, while there is no evidence of co-movements in bonds markets. These findings suggest some degree of interdependence among GCC countries.
International Monetary Fund
Effective liquidity management is important to promote macro-financial stability in the GCC countries. Fixed exchange rate regimes provide credible nominal anchors in the GCC countries, but combined with open capital accounts, they also entail limited monetary policy independence. At the same time, high dependence on hydrocarbon revenue has made the region vulnerable to oil price-driven liquidity swings. And the latter can affect monetary policy implementation, including by exacerbating credit and asset price cycles. This highlights the importance of frameworks aimed at forecasting liquidity and ensuring appropriate liquidity levels through the timely absorption or injection of liquidity by central banks. Over the past decade, liquidity management in the GCC countries has been based mainly on passive instruments. Abundant liquidity during times of high oil prices have placed liquidity absorption at the center of the central bank operations. Reserve requirements have helped absorb liquidity but have not been used very actively. Standing facilities, another key instrument, are more passive in nature, with the amount of liquidity absorbed or injected driven by banks rather than monetary authorities. Central banks bills or other instruments have also been used, but issuance has not systematically been based on market principles. In addition, these operations have been constrained by limited liquidity forecasting capability and the shallow nature of interbank and domestic debt markets.
International Monetary Fund
Global economic activity is gaining momentum. Global growth is forecast at 3.6 percent this year, and 3.7 percent in 2018, compared to 3.2 percent in 2016. Risks around this forecast are broadly balanced in the near term, but are skewed to the downside over the medium term. The more positive global growth environment should support somewhat stronger oil demand. With inflation in advanced countries remaining subdued, monetary policy is expected to remain accommodative. GCC countries are continuing to adjust to lower oil prices. Substantial fiscal consolidation has taken place in most countries, mainly focused on expenditure reduction. This is necessary, but it has weakened non-oil growth. With the pace of fiscal consolidation set to slow, non-oil growth is expected to increase to 2.6 percent this year, from 1.8 percent last year. However, because of lower oil output, overall real GDP growth is projected to slow to 0.5 percent in 2017 from 2.2 percent in 2016. Growth prospects in the medium-term remain subdued amid relatively low oil prices and geopolitical risks. Policymakers have made a strong start in adjusting fiscal policy. While the needed pace of fiscal adjustment varies across countries depending on the fiscal space available, in general countries should continue to focus on recurrent expenditure rationalization, further energy price reforms, increased non-oil revenues, and improved efficiency of capital spending. Fiscal consolidation should be accompanied by a further improvement in fiscal frameworks and institutions. The direction of fiscal policy in the GCC is broadly consistent with these recommendations. Policies should continue to be geared toward managing evolving liquidity situations in the banking system and supporting the private sector’s access to funding. While countries have made progress in enhancing their financial policy frameworks, strengthening liquidity forecasting and developing liquidity management instruments will help banks adjust to a tighter liquidity environment. Banks generally remain profitable, well capitalized, and liquid, but with growth expected to remain relatively weak, the monitoring of financial sector vulnerabilities should continue to be enhanced. Diversification and private sector development will be needed to offset lower government spending and ensure stronger, sustainable, and inclusive growth. This will require stepped-up reforms to improve the business climate and reduce the role of the public sector in the economy through privatization and PPPs. Reforms are needed to increase the incentives for nationals to work in the private sector and for private sector firms to hire them. Increasing female participation in the labor market and employment would benefit productivity and growth across the region. Where fiscal space is available, fiscal policy can be used to support the structural reforms needed to boost private sector growth and employment.
Mr. Raphael A Espinoza, Ms. Ghada Fayad, and Mr. Ananthakrishnan Prasad

Abstract

The economies of the Arab states of the Gulf have gone through considerable changes in the last decade, spurred by high oil prices and ambitious diversification plans. Large-scale immigration provided the labor force while capital inflows and financial development leveraged oil wealth to finance diversification. The collapse in real estate prices around the world followed by the global crisis slowed growth and raised questions on the appropriateness of what has been dubbed the "GCC model." The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries have thus far managed to leverage their large natural resource wealth to achieve economic prosperity and finance social advances, and the region also emerged as an important source of funds for the other countries in the Middle East. Nevertheless, the GCC face several challenges. Productivity growth must increase to fully reap the benefits of investment. Jobs must be created for the nationals and the growing youth population. State intervention (which is prevalent, given that oil revenues accrue to the government) must become efficient and be used to diversify and modernize the economy. In addition, the recent crisis highlighted the importance of fiscal, monetary, and financial stability policies to manage macroeconomic cycles. This book analyses these issues and combines data and econometric analysis with theoretical discussions. It concludes with a discussion of the importance of the GCC for the wider region.