Magda Kandil was a highly regarded economist and long-time supporter of ERF and The Forum. In her final column, written shortly before her untimely passing, she concludes that the Covid-19 pandemic provides an opportunity to integrate short-term challenges into the long-term reform agenda so that MENA countries can graduate from the current crisis to a better and sustainable path of growth and prosperity.
Similar to most net oil-producing countries, the economies of the Gulf Cooperation Council are affected by two simultaneous shocks: the Covid-19 outbreak and lower oil prices. In response, GCC governments have adopted sizeable stimulus packages to attenuate the negative impact of the crisis, while putting more pressure on their fiscal positions. This column discusses how GCC countries should strike the right balance between supporting economic recovery while ensuring fiscal sustainability and macroeconomic stability.
How should the United Arab Emirates chart a way forward from today’s world of very low oil prices and a deteriorating world economic outlook? This column explores the impact on of current circumstances on UAE economic activity, government spending and the budget deficit. The ultimate goal, the authors conclude, should be to sustain the momentum of further diversification of the economy to reduce oil dependency and hedge against continued fluctuations in oil prices and spillovers from the global economy.
The economic crash landing caused by Covid-19 is unprecedented. But as this column argues, once the virus threat has abated, the speed of recovery could be almost as fast as the speed of deterioration given the pent-up demand, the massive policy support and the strength of fundamentals that many economies had before the crisis.
The countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) are all seeking to promote diversification of their economies away from continued dependence on the energy sector, yet oil prices remain the main driver of economic growth in the region. This column discusses how the GCC countries should respond to the ‘new normal’ of ‘low for long’ oil prices, with a goal of supporting growth while ensuring fiscal sustainability and macroeconomic stability.
The fall in the oil price to a ‘new normal’ has had a negative impact on four indicators of banks’ performance in the United Arab Emirates (UAE): return on assets; return on equity; and growth of credit and deposits. This column uses data on 22 national banks to examine differences in performance between conventional and Islamic banks, and outlines measures to improve the banking sector’s resilience and profitability.
Iran’s currency has once again fallen against the dollar following the US withdrawal from the nuclear deal. This column explores the inflationary impact of speculative attacks on the rial, as well as the policy responses from the government and the central bank. Such episodes – and subsequent overshooting – have proven to be highly disruptive to the country, with lasting adverse social and economic effects.
While state ownership of companies is widely thought to lead to inefficiencies, in the United Arab Emirates, it has proved to be a pillar of good corporate performance. This column describes the country’s experience over the period 2008-16, evaluating the performance of listed companies and banks, and comparing indicators across privately owned companies and those in which the government holds majority stakes.
As energy-producing economies strive to reduce their reliance on oil revenues, they must strike a balance between the competing demands of fiscal sustainability and steady growth of the non-energy sector. This column outlines how the United Arab Emirates is addressing this challenge.