Middle East and Central Asia > Saudi Arabia

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Narek Ghazaryan, Mr. Alexei Goumilevski, Mr. Joannes Mongardini, and Aneta Radzikowski
This paper extends earlier research by adding SWIFT data on documentary collections to the short-term forecast of international trade. While SWIFT documentary collections accounted for just over one percent of world trade financing in 2020, they have strong explanatory power to forecast world trade and national trade in selected economies. The informational content from documentary collections helps improve the forecast of world trade, while a horse race with machine learning algorithms shows significant non-linearities between trade and its determinants during the Covid-19 pandemic.
International Monetary Fund. Finance Dept. and International Monetary Fund. Statistics Dept.
This paper presents the annual update of the quota database and extends the database by one year through 2018. The paper provides an overview of the data and of the methodology and covers the quota formula variables and calculated quota shares based on the current quota formula.
International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.


Countries in the Middle East, North Africa, Afghanistan, and Pakistan (MENAP) region and those in the Caucasus and Central Asia (CCA) responded to the COVID-19 pandemic with swift and stringent measures to mitigate its spread and impact but continue to face an uncertain and difficult environment. Oil exporters were particularly hard hit by a “double-whammy” of the economic impact of lockdowns and the resulting sharp decline in oil demand and prices. Containing the health crisis, cushioning income losses, and expanding social spending remain immediate priorities. However, governments must also begin to lay the groundwork for recovery and rebuilding stronger, including by addressing legacies from the crisis and strengthening inclusion.

Mr. Olumuyiwa S Adedeji, Mr. Erik Roos, Mr. Sohaib Shahid, and Ling Zhu
This paper provides empirical evidence that the size of the spillovers from U.S. monetary policy to non-oil GDP growth in the GCC countries depends on the level of oil prices. The potential channels through which oil prices could affect the effectiveness of monetary policy are discussed. We find that the level of oil prices tends to dampen or amplify the growth impact of changes in U.S. monetary policy on the non-oil economies in the GCC.
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.
Louellen Stedman, Mr. John Hicklin, and Roxana Pedraglio


This report is the seventh in a series of evaluation updates by the Independent Evaluation Office of the IMF (IEO) that return to past IEO evaluations and assess the continuing relevance of their main conclusions. The report revisits the 2007 evaluation of IMF Exchange Rate Policy Advice, which found that the IMF was “not as effective as it needed to be” in fulfilling its responsibilities for exchange rate surveillance in the period 1999–2005. While acknowledging the inherent complexity of providing exchange rate policy advice, including the lack of professional consensus on many of the key issues, the evaluation observed serious weaknesses in the IMF’s work on key analytical issues and in its engagement with members. The update finds that the IMF has substantially overhauled its approach to exchange rate policy advice since 2007. Key steps taken include: adoption of a more comprehensive approach to exchange rate surveillance under the 2012 Integrated Surveillance Decision; development of enhanced analytical tools; a new institutional view on capital flows; and introduction of the annual External Sector Report that provides an integrated picture of the external balances of major economies. The IMF continues to work on further enhancements of its approach. Nonetheless, the update concludes that challenges remain that impact the effectiveness of the IMF’s work in an area central to its mandate. The approach for assessing external balances and exchange rates continues to be contentious, in part reflecting differing views across the membership about the process of external adjustment. There are also ongoing questions in other areas, including considerations for exchange rate regime choice, attention to policy spillovers, the institutional view on capital flows, and data availability. The update suggests that the persistence of key issues identified in 2007 merits a full evaluation by the IEO.

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.