IMF: Middle East Can Sustain Low Oil Prices Less Than Five Years

The International Monetary Fund ‘s most recent assessment of the Middles East as well as North Africa economies will make for quite grim reading in a number of regions of the oil rich nations.

The assessment to say the least is brutal showing a slowdown in growth and a destabilizing effect due to the low prices of oil.

Though the dropping energy costs have been one positive thing for the consumer in many parts of the world, that boost for consumers is effectively taken from the pockets of the finance ministers across the Middle East.

The governments will have trouble meeting budgets in many of the countries.

Only the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Qatar  have sufficiently strong enough buffers fiscally to help them last over the long term, with each able to hold off for more than 20 years.

However, Algeria, Oman, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Libya are in a for more worrisome situation, with only five years or less in buffers, before they would run into using debt.

That is due to the current price of oil being far below the breakeven point fiscally for the government or the price they need to make their budgets balance.

Fiscal buffers mean how long a country has to run down its assets prior to having nothing left to sell.

For example, Saudi Arabia has a colossal reserve of foreign currency, but those might last only a certain amount of time if the government has to constantly sell them in order to fund spending and is insistent in keeping domestic currency firmly tagged with the dollar.

The plummet in the price of oil was a concerted effort by exporters of oil with support from the Gulf States and Saudi Arabia. The deliberate overproduction added to the weakening of overall demand and has slashed the prices by half during the past year.

That has had a huge effect around the globe, boosting spending in retail in Europe and sending figures of inflation into the negative numbers across the advanced economies.

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