Lebanon: how might a debt restructuring play out?

Lebanon’s government is set to decide tomorrow on whether to repay a $1.2bn Eurobond maturing on Monday. Whatever the decision, a debt restructuring inevitably lies in store and the government will probably try to concentrate losses on holders of Eurobonds. But this will be a long and arduous process.
James Swanston Middle East and North Africa 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

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Middle East Economics Focus

Egyptian pound’s rally to go into reverse

The Egyptian pound has appreciated significantly since the devaluation in 2016 and there are signs that the strength of the currency is weighing on the country’s external competitiveness. We forecast a gradual depreciation from around 15.6/$ now to 17/$ by the end of next year, which is a larger fall than most expect. But there is a risk that policymakers have not learnt from their past mistakes and support an overvalued exchange rate for too long, leading to a sharper adjustment further down the line.

15 June 2021

Middle East Data Response

Saudi Arabia Consumer Prices (May)

The rise in Saudi inflation to 5.7% y/y in May is likely to be followed by another increase in June, but the headline rate will fall sharply in July to around 1.0-1.5% y/y as the effects of last year’s VAT hike fade. Inflation will probably remain subdued over the rest of this year and through 2022-23.

15 June 2021

Middle East Economics Weekly

Egypt vaccine, MENA tourism, Iran nuclear talks

Egypt’s domestic vaccine production has got underway, but the country has a very long way to go before it can lift virus-related restrictions on a sustained basis. Egypt and Bahrain were added to the UK’s travel red list, adding to our view that recoveries in tourism sectors in the region will be sluggish. Finally, recent comments from US Secretary of State Antony Blinken have reduced hopes that Iran’s nuclear deal can be revived soon.

10 June 2021
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