Middle East and Central Asia > Qatar

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Ms. Natasha X Che and Xuege Zhang
This paper studies the relationship between export structure and growth performance. We design an export recommendation system using a collaborative filtering algorithm based on countries' revealed comparative advantages. The system is used to produce export portfolio recommendations covering over 190 economies and over 30 years. We find that economies with their export structure more aligned with the recommended export structure achieve better growth performance, in terms of both higher GDP growth rate and lower growth volatility. These findings demonstrate that export structure matters for obtaining high and stable growth. Our recommendation system can serve as a practical tool for policymakers seeking actionable insights on their countries’ export potential and diversification strategies that may be complex and hard to quantify.
Marijn A. Bolhuis and Brett Rayner
We leverage insights from machine learning to optimize the tradeoff between bias and variance when estimating economic models using pooled datasets. Specifically, we develop a simple algorithm that estimates the similarity of economic structures across countries and selects the optimal pool of countries to maximize out-of-sample prediction accuracy of a model. We apply the new alogrithm by nowcasting output growth with a panel of 102 countries and are able to significantly improve forecast accuracy relative to alternative pools. The algortihm improves nowcast performance for advanced economies, as well as emerging market and developing economies, suggesting that machine learning techniques using pooled data could be an important macro tool for many countries.
IMF Research Perspective (formerly published as IMF Research Bulletin) is a new, redesigned online newsletter covering updates on IMF research. In the inaugural issue of the newsletter, Hites Ahir interviews Valeria Cerra; and they discuss the economic environment 10 years after the global financial crisis. Research Summaries cover the rise of populism; economic reform; labor and technology; big data; and the relationship between happiness and productivity. Sweta C. Saxena was the guest editor for this inaugural issue.
International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.
This Selected Issues paper discusses strengthening of fiscal policy and fiscal frameworks in Qatar. It proposes ways to ensure that sustainable fiscal policy is maintained in the medium to long term in Qatar. Fiscal policy remains sustainable, but given the large drop in oil prices, revenue-raising and expenditure-containing measures need to be considered to ensure intergenerational equity. Measures aimed at containing current spending, prioritizing capital expenditure, and raising nonhydrocarbon revenues would help bring fiscal policy back to consistency with intergenerational equity. Strengthening fiscal frameworks would help achieve the desirable fiscal policies.
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.

International Monetary Fund
The global and regional economic environment remains challenging. Global growth remains tepid, and although some pick-up is expected, risks are tilted to the downside. Recent volatility in financial markets is having a significant impact on some large emerging markets, highlighting the challenges that will be faced in unwinding the Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing policy. Geopolitical uncertainties in the Middle East are also high.