Central Bank of Egypt keeps rates on hold for now

The Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) kept interest rates unchanged at Thursday’s MPC meeting amid rising price pressures. However, we still think that inflation will slow in the final months of this year and re-open the door for the CBE to resume its easing cycle.
James Swanston Middle East and North Africa Economist
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Middle East Economics Update

What does the energy price surge mean for the Gulf?

Higher oil and gas revenues are likely to prompt a modest shift to looser fiscal policy in the large Gulf economies, although Bahrain and Oman will still need to stick to austerity. Meanwhile, if OPEC+ were to raise production quotas more quickly in response to the surge in global energy prices, that would pose a major upside risk to our above-consensus GDP growth forecasts.

20 October 2021

Middle East Economic Outlook

Gulf to outperform

Economic recoveries in the Gulf will continue to gather pace over the coming year on the back of successful vaccine rollouts and higher oil output, and our GDP growth forecasts lie above the consensus. Outside the Gulf, though, recoveries are likely to be slower, particularly in the more tourism-dependent economies. We think a sovereign default in Tunisia is more likely than not, and we have long-standing worries about public debt in Bahrain and Oman as well as Dubai’s corporate debts.

19 October 2021

Middle East Economics Weekly

Egypt and UAE inflation, OPEC+, austerity in Algeria

Inflation figures for Egypt showed the headline rate jumped to a 20-month high in September and we think that this will delay a turn towards interest rate cuts. Elsewhere, the UAE emerged from deflation in August amid signs that the property sector has turned a corner. But disappointing news on the number of visitors to the World Expo reinforce our bearish view on the sector. Meanwhile, the rally in oil prices has ratcheted up the pressure on the OPEC+ to raise output quotas, which would most likely involve higher quotas for the Gulf. Finally, Algeria’s turn to fiscal austerity is unlikely to be enough to prevent a sharp devaluation in the coming years.

14 October 2021

More from James Swanston

Middle East Economics Weekly

Lebanon finally gets a government, Saudi education plans

The news that Lebanon finally formed a new government this week came as welcome relief amid the country’s economic, political and humanitarian crises. But there are still plenty of big hurdles to clear before the country emerges from its crisis. Elsewhere, the Saudi government is set to launch reform of the Kingdom’s education sector – an area of Vision 2030 we have long argued had been lagging.

16 September 2021

Middle East Economics Update

Jordan’s public finances a cause for concern

Jordan’s public finances deteriorated sharply last year and fiscal consolidation is needed to put the debt position back on a sustainable footing. Sticking to austerity may prove difficult given the economic and political backdrop and the composition of Jordan’s debt is also a cause for concern. But the likelihood of financial support from the Gulf and Western allies mitigates the near-term risk of default.

15 September 2021

Middle East Data Response

Saudi Arabia Consumer Prices (Aug.)

Saudi inflation edged down to 0.3% y/y in August and is likely to remain around this level over the coming months. We think that inflation will pick up to 1.0-1.5% y/y in 2022-23, although the possibility of a VAT cut presents a downside risk.

15 September 2021
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