Regional slowdown worsens

The focus on political risk and Lebanon’s growing debt problem have meant that the sharp slowdown in growth across large parts of the region has gone unnoticed. The latest figures suggest that the economies of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Lebanon were all contracting in the middle of the year, and growth in the UAE, Morocco, Bahrain and Oman slowed. By our estimates, regional GDP growth fell from a peak of 3.5% y/y in Q4 2018 to 1.9% y/y in Q2 and 1.6% in Q3. The impact of oil output cuts and fiscal tightening could cause regional growth to slow to just 1% y/y in Q4, which would be one of the worst outturns this decade.
William Jackson Chief Emerging Markets Economist
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Middle East Economics Weekly

Oil prices, UAE drone attack, Gulf monetary tightening

The recent upwards revision to our oil price forecast means that the window for looser fiscal policy in the Gulf will remain open for a little longer than we anticipated. One of the factors driving oil higher this week was the Houthi drone strike in the UAE, which highlighted the risks to the Emirates’ recovery – particularly the tourism sector. Finally, central banks in the Gulf will have to follow the Fed in tightening monetary policy – which now seems likely to start in March. That will add a headwind to non-oil sectors.

20 January 2022

Middle East Economics Weekly

Oil and Gulf fiscal policy, Egypt joins GBI-EM, Tunisia

We think that the recent rally in oil prices is likely to be short lived and, as prices fall back, the window for governments in the Gulf to loosen fiscal policy will shut. Elsewhere, Egypt’s inclusion in JP Morgan’s GBI-EM bond index at the end of the month could boost capital inflows, but also cause external imbalances to increase. Finally, despite some support from Saudi Arabia this week, the Tunisian government will still need to pass much-needed fiscal consolidation to repair its balance sheets. Otherwise, it will continue to edge closer to a sovereign default.

13 January 2022

Middle East Data Response

Saudi Arabia Consumer Prices (Dec.)

Saudi inflation edged up to 1.2% y/y in December and we think that the headline rate will drift a little higher over the first half of this year before stabilising at around 1.0-1.5% over the rest of 2022 and 2023. Drop-In: Neil Shearing will host an online panel of our senior economists to answer your questions and update on macro and markets this Thursday, 13th January (11:00 ET/16:00 GMT). Register for the latest on everything from Omicron to the Fed to our key calls for 2022. Registration here.

13 January 2022

More from William Jackson

Latin America Economics Weekly

Peru turmoil, Chile’s lockdown, hawks & doves

Pedro Castillo’s victory in Peru’s presidential election caused local markets to tumble, but if his more moderate post-election comments are borne out in policymaking, asset prices are likely to recover some lost ground. In Chile, while the latest lockdown has caused the near-term outlook to worsen, we retain a positive view on the economy’s growth prospects. The central bank’s forecasts published this week show that it is of a similar opinion (and that rates will rise this year as a result – in line with our projections). Elsewhere, the news that Mexico’s finance minister will take over as central bank governor next year adds weight to our view that Banxico bank will tolerate higher inflation.

11 June 2021

Latin America Data Response

Mexico Industrial Production (Apr.)

The surprise drop in Mexican industrial production in April may partly be payback for a strong March. And early indicators suggest that industrial activity picked up in May. Moreover, with services sectors recovering, we continue to think that the economy will grow by an above-consensus 6.5% this year.

11 June 2021

Emerging Europe Data Response

Turkey Industrial Production & Retail Sales (Apr.)

The m/m falls in Turkish industrial production and retail sales in April are likely to be followed by further weakness in May (when a three-week lockdown was in place). This supports our view that the economy will probably contract in q/q terms over Q2 as a whole. We suspect that the central bank will leave interest rates unchanged when it meets next week, but the softer economic activity figures will add to demands for rate cuts, which seem likely to come in July.

11 June 2021
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