Muna AbuSulayman is a Saudi Arabian media personality, whose television show, Kalam Nawaem, which means “soft talk” in Arabic, is the longest running and most popular social issues show in the Middle East. In this podcast, AbuSulayman discusses pushing social boundaries, including on topics such as gender equality. (more…)
In November 2014, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) decided to maintain output despite a perceived global glut of oil. The result was a steep decline in price.
Two years later, on November 30, 2016, the organization took a different tack and committed to a six-month, 1.2 million barrel a day (3.5 percent) reduction in OPEC crude oil output to 32.5 million barrels per day, effective in January 2017. The result was a small price increase and some price stability. (more…)
As a result of the oil price plunge, the major oil-exporting countries are facing budget deficits for the first time in years. The growth in the assets of their sovereign wealth funds, which were rising at a rapid rate until recently, is now slowing; some have started drawing on their buffers.
In the short run, this phenomenon is not cause for alarm. Most oil exporters have enough buffers to withstand a temporary drop in oil prices. But what will happen if low oil prices persist, and how will policymakers react?
by Vitor Gaspar
The world economy is experiencing important transitions and associated uncertainties.
- Commodity prices have fallen sharply, with adverse consequences for exporting countries.
- China’s rebalancing and the prospect of U.S. interest rate increases are having important and costly spillover effects on other economies.
- And these and other factors are posing important fiscal challenges, especially for emerging markets.
As 2014 draws to a close, we thought you might like a look back at the most read blogs of the year. These are the headlines and ideas that caught your eyes and the list is based on readership. We thought we’d pull them all together for you in one quick read.
Wishing you a wonky & worldy 2015 from all of us at iMFdirect.
Oil prices have plunged recently, affecting everyone: producers, exporters, governments, and consumers. Overall, we see this as a shot in the arm for the global economy. Bearing in mind that our simulations do not represent a forecast of the state of the global economy, we find a gain for world GDP between 0.3 and 0.7 percent in 2015, compared to a scenario without the drop in oil prices. There is however much more to this complex and evolving story. In this blog we examine the mechanics of the oil market now and in the future, the implications for various groups of countries as well as for financial stability, and how policymakers should address the impact on their economies.
- We find both supply and demand factors have played a role in the sharp price decline since June. Futures markets suggest that oil prices will rebound but remain below the level of recent years. There is however substantial uncertainty about the evolution of supply and demand factors as the story unfolds.
- While no two countries will experience the drop in the same way, they share some common traits: oil importers among advanced economies, and even more so emerging markets, stand to benefit from higher household income, lower input costs, and improved external positions. Oil exporters will take in less revenue, and their budgets and external balances will be under pressure.
- Risks to financial stability have increased, but remain limited. Currency pressures have so far been limited to a handful of oil exporting countries such as Russia, Nigeria, and Venezuela. Given global financial linkages, these developments demand increased vigilance all around.
- Oil exporters will want to smooth out the adjustment by not curtailing fiscal spending abruptly. For those without savings funds and strong fiscal rules, budgetary and exchange rate pressures may, however, be significant. Without the right monetary policies, this could lead to higher inflation and further depreciation.
- The fall in oil prices provides an opportunity for many countries to decrease energy subsidies and use the savings toward more targeted transfers, and for some to increase energy taxes and lower other taxes.
- In the euro area and Japan, where demand is weak and conventional monetary policy has done most of what it can, central banks forward guidance is crucial to anchor medium term inflation expectations in the face of falling oil prices.
Again, our simulations of the impact of the oil price drop do not represent a forecast for the state of the world economy in 2015 and beyond. This we will do in the IMF’s next World Economic Outlook in January, where we will also look at many other cross-currents driving growth, inflation, global imbalances and financial stability.
What follows is our attempt to answer seven key questions about the oil price decline:
- What are the respective roles of demand and supply factors?
- How persistent is this supply shift likely to be?
- What are the effects likely to be on the global economy?
- What are likely to be the effects on oil importers?
- What are likely to be the effects on oil exporters?
- What are the financial implications?
- What should be the policy response of oil importers and exporters?
By Min Zhu
(Versions in عربي)
To almost all economists it is clear that the private sector is critically important in creating jobs and achieving strong growth. The public sector is already overburdened in most countries. But what is not clear is how to support the private sector for it to play this important role.
To shed some light on how to facilitate strong job creation and growth by the private sector in the Middle East and North Africa, we held a conference in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in December 2013, jointly with the Council of Saudi Chambers and the International Finance Corporation.
As the date of the conference approached, registrations kept increasing, and by the time we opened the conference, the registration numbers had skyrocketed to more than 800! I can think of no better sign of the importance of this topic for the people in this region.
(Versions in عربي)
Two days ago, I had the pleasure of visiting Kuwait, a member country of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). It was a whirlwind visit, with many places to see and people to meet, in a thriving corner of the global economy. Kuwait has extended to me its emblematic tradition of hospitality— a testament to its ancient and noble culture. I was awed by the magnificent artifacts of the al-Sabah collection, which I saw in the beautifully restored Dar al-Athar al-Islamiyyah cultural center.
Back to economics. The member countries of the council—Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates—have some of world’s highest living standards. The region has also become a major destination for foreign workers and a source of remittances for their families back home. And it is a financial center and a hub for international trade and business services.
Tunisia is going through an inclusive process of transition, but faces some extraordinary challenges. I have heard from its leaders how Tunisia was the model that paved the way for the Arab Spring, and their firm belief that it remains capable of lighting the path forward for other countries going through historic changes in the region.