The IMF Working Papers series is designed to make IMF staff research available to a wide audience. Almost 300 Working Papers are released each year, covering a wide range of theoretical and analytical topics, including balance of payments, monetary and fiscal issues, global liquidity, and national and international economic developments.
This paper introduces a methodology for assessing external balance in countries with large stocks of non-renewable resources based on oil stock data, and applies it to selected oil producing countries. The methodology uses a stock approach (instead of the more traditional flow approach) to estimate the equilibrium non-oil current account consistent with optimal consumption smoothing. One of the benefits of the stock approach is that geological data for oil reserves can be used to estimate oil wealth; however, the methodology makes the estimated non-oil current account norm very sensitive to oil price projections. Based on an oil price about US$70 per barrel prevailing in the summer of 2007, the baseline estimates indicate that the non-oil current accounts for most of the countries in the sample are broadly in equilibrium. By the same token, using oil price projections as of the summer of 2008 implies large disparities between the equilibrium non-oil current account position and the medium term forecast for all countries in the sample except for Malaysia.