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International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.

For the latest thinking about the international financial system, monetary policy, economic development, poverty reduction, and other critical issues, subscribe to Finance & Development (F&D). This lively quarterly magazine brings you in-depth analyses of these and other subjects by the IMF’s own staff as well as by prominent international experts. Articles are written for lay readers who want to enrich their understanding of the workings of the global economy and the policies and activities of the IMF.

Ms. May Y Khamis, Mr. Abdelhak S Senhadji, Mr. Gabriel Sensenbrenner, Mr. Francis Y Kumah, Maher Hasan, and Mr. Ananthakrishnan Prasad
This paper focuses on impact of the global financial crisis on the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Countries and challenges ahead. The oil price boom led to large fiscal and external balance surpluses in the GCC countries. However, it also generated domestic imbalances that began to unravel with the onset of the global credit squeeze. As the global deleveraging process took hold, and oil prices and production fell, the GCC’s external and fiscal surpluses declined markedly, stock and real estate markets plunged, credit default swap spreads on sovereign debt widened, and external funding for the financial and corporate sectors tightened. In order to offset the shocks brought on by the crisis, governments—buttressed by strong international reserve positions—maintained high levels of spending and introduced exceptional financial measures, including capital and liquidity injections. The immediate priority is to complete the clean-up of bank balance sheets and the restructuring of the nonbanking sector in some countries. Clear communication by the authorities would help implementation, ease investor uncertainty, and reduce speculation and market volatility.
DAVID R. MORGAN

Following the oil price rises of late 1973 and early 1974, several organizations predicted massive accumulations of international reserves by the major oil exporting countries by the end of 1980. 1 In the event, their balance of payments surpluses on current account and their reserve accumulations have been substantially lower than expected. 2 One reason is that world economic growth has been slower than assumed. But almost certainly the major source of error concerned the absorptive capacity of the oil exporting nations. The speed with which highly ambitious development strategies could be formulated and implemented in the oil exporting countries during the period after 1973 was not anticipated by many commentators in the early days of the oil crisis. Largely as a result of these factors, the balance of payments surplus on current account of the major oil exporting countries 3 declined from $68 billion in 1974 to $35 billion in 1977; and it has been projected to decline further, to around $10 billion in 1978.4 Further, this surplus is now concentrated among five countries of relatively low absorptive capacity—Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and the Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya. The current account position of the other seven oil exporting countries as a group was expected to move into deficit in 1978.

International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.

Over the past few decades, governments of the member countries of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (GCC) have acted as employers of first and last resort. Nationals who sought jobs found them in the public sector, while foreign workers filled shortages in the private, non-oil sector. More recently, however, the number of young nationals entering the workforce has increasingly outstripped the economies’ capacity to generate new jobs—a situation compounded by structural problems in the labor market. In a new IMF Working Paper, Ugo Fasano of the IMF’s Middle East and Central Asia Department and Rishi Goyal of the IMF’s Western Hemisphere Department examine how GCC governments can meet this challenge. Christine Ebrahim-zadeh of the IMF Survey spoke with them.

International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.
The Web edition of the IMF Survey is updated several times a week, and contains a wealth of articles about topical policy and economic issues in the news. Access the latest IMF research, read interviews, and listen to podcasts given by top IMF economists on important issues in the global economy. www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/survey/so/home.aspx
International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.
The Web edition of the IMF Survey is updated several times a week, and contains a wealth of articles about topical policy and economic issues in the news. Access the latest IMF research, read interviews, and listen to podcasts given by top IMF economists on important issues in the global economy. www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/survey/so/home.aspx
Pierpaolo Grippa and Lucyna Gornicka
Concentration risk is an important feature of many banking sectors, especially in emerging and small economies. Under the Basel Framework, Pillar 1 capital requirements for credit risk do not cover concentration risk, and those calculated under the Internal Ratings Based (IRB) approach explicitly exclude it. Banks are expected to compensate for this by autonomously estimating and setting aside appropriate capital buffers, which supervisors are required to assess and possibly challenge within the Pillar 2 process. Inadequate reflection of this risk can lead to insufficient capital levels even when the capital ratios seem high. We propose a flexible technique, based on a combination of “full” credit portfolio modeling and asymptotic results, to calculate capital requirements for name and sector concentration risk in banks’ portfolios. The proposed approach lends itself to be used in bilateral surveillance, as a potential area for technical assistance on banking supervision, and as a policy tool to gauge the degree of concentration risk in different banking systems.
International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.

Since the establishment of the Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF)—the IMF’s concessional loan facility—in September 1999, the organization has made a concerted effort to strengthen analytical work on macroeconomic issues affecting low-income countries. One product of this drive was an October 23-24, 2003, workshop hosted by the Macroeconomic Studies Division of the IMF’s Research Department. The forum pointed to a number of ways that the IMF could make its macroeconomic policy recommendations more effective and improve the success rate of achieving program targets. These include improving data, gaining greater insight into the role of institutions, rethinking IMF program design, and reassessing how aid is disbursed.

International Monetary Fund. Research Dept.

The IMF Research Bulletin surveys recent key studies by IMF staff.