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International Monetary Fund
Kuwait’s economy was affected significantly by the global crisis. The financial sector experienced funding pressures and deterioration in asset quality. The economic outcome depends largely on government spending and the associated private investment. Stress tests indicate that the banking system can withstand shocks. The macroeconomic policy mix is adequate, but growth of current expenditures should be contained. Successful implementation of the growth agenda requires progress in structural reforms. The financial system’s oversight framework should be strengthened. The household debt relief law can undermine the financial culture.
International Monetary Fund
Kuwait’s economy continued to perform strongly in 2008, although signs of weakness emerged in the second half of the year. The authorities’ key challenge in the near term is to preserve financial stability and cushion the impact of the global slowdown. Executive Directors have commended the Kuwaiti authorities’ prudent macroeconomic policies, which have contributed to robust economic growth, strong fiscal and external positions. Directors have also called for strengthening oversight of risk management practices by ensuring adequate policies and procedures for identifying, monitoring, and controlling systemic risk in the financial system.
International Monetary Fund
The expenditure multipliers in Kuwait are likely to be high, and mostly operate through capital expenditure. Kuwait’s large state-controlled endowment of natural resource, pegged exchange rate regimes, and relatively open financial accounts are the mainstay. The nominal effective exchange rate diverged from the set pattern owing to higher inflation. Estimates from methodologies for exchange rate assessment indicate mixed results. Macroprudential policies in Kuwait would strengthen the management of systemic risk by reducing the probability and the impact of a financial boom-bust cycle on economic activity.
Mr. Olumuyiwa S Adedeji, Mr. Sohaib Shahid, and Ling Zhu
This paper examines real and financial linkages between Saudi Arabia and other GCC countries. Growth spillovers from Saudi Arabia to Bahrain are found to be sizeable and statistically significant, but those to other GCC countries are not found to be significant. Equity market movements in Saudi Arabia are found to have significant implications for other GCC countries, while there is no evidence of co-movements in bonds markets. These findings suggest some degree of interdependence among GCC countries.
Raja Almarzoqi, Mr. Sami Ben Naceur, and Alessandro Scopelliti
The paper analyzes the relationship between bank competition and stability, with a specific focus on the Middle East and North Africa. Price competition has a positive effect on bank liquidity, as it induces self-discipline incentives on banks for the choice of bank funding sources and for the holding of liquid assets. On the other hand, price competition may have a potentially negative impact on bank solvency and on the credit quality of the loan portfolio. More competitive banks may be less solvent if the potential increase in the equity base—due to capital adjustments—is not large enough to compensate for the reduction in bank profitability. Also, banks subject to stronger competitive pressures may have a higher rate of nonperforming loans, if the increase in the risk-taking incentives from the lender’s side overcomes the decrease in the credit risk from the borrower’s side. In both cases, country-specific policies for market entry conditions—and for bank regulation and supervision—may significantly affect the sign and the size of the relationship. The paper suggests policy reforms designed to improve market contestability and to increase the quality and independence of prudential supervision.
Mr. Heiko Hesse and Mr. Tigran Poghosyan
This paper analyzes the relationship between oil price shocks and bank profitability. Using data on 145 banks in 11 oil-exporting MENA countries for 1994-2008, we test hypotheses of direct and indirect effects of oil price shocks on bank profitability. Our results indicate that oil price shocks have indirect effect on bank profitability, channeled through country-specific macroeconomic and institutional variables, while the direct effect is insignificant. Investment banks appear to be the most affected ones compared to Islamic and commercial banks. Our findings highlight systemic implications of oil price shocks on bank performance and underscore their importance for macroprudential regulation purposes in MENA countries.
Tahsin Saadi Sedik and Mr. Oral Williams
This paper analyzes the impact of global and regional spillovers to GCC equity markets. GCC equity markets were impacted by spillovers from U.S. equity markets despite varying degrees of foreign participation. Spillovers from regional equity markets were also important but the magnitude of the effects were on average smaller than that from mature markets. The results also illustrated episodes of contagion in particular during the recent global financial crisis. The findings suggest that given the degree of openness, and open capital accounts the financial channel is an important source through which volatility is transmitted. In this regard, GCC equity markets are not immune from global and regional financial shocks. These findings refute the notion of decoupling between the GCC equity and global equity markets.
Mr. Olumuyiwa S Adedeji, Yacoub Alatrash, and Mr. Divya Kirti
Given their pegged exchange rate regimes, Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries usually adjust their policy rates to match shifting U.S. monetary policy. This raises the important question of how changes in U.S. monetary policy affect banks in the GCC. We use bank-level panel data, exploiting variation across banks within countries, to isolate the impact of changing U.S. interest rates on GCC banks funding costs, asset rates, and profitability. We find stronger pass-through from U.S. monetary policy to liability rates than to asset rates and bank profitability, largely reflecting funding structures. In addition, we explore the role of shifts in the quantity of bank liabilities as policy rates change and the role of large banks with relatively stable funding costs to explain these findings.
Mr. Andreas A. Jobst and Mr. Juan Sole
This paper provides a conceptual overview of key aspects of the design and implementation of solvency stress testing of Islamic banks. Based on existing regulatory standards and prudential practice, the paper explains how Islamic finance principles and their impact on various risk drivers affect the capital assessment of asset-oriented financial intermediation under stress. The formal specification of these risk factors helps operationalize and integrate the stress testing of Islamic banks within established frameworks for financial stability analysis.
International Monetary Fund

Kuwait’s economy continued to perform strongly in 2008, although signs of weakness emerged in the second half of the year. The authorities’ key challenge in the near term is to preserve financial stability and cushion the impact of the global slowdown. Executive Directors have commended the Kuwaiti authorities’ prudent macroeconomic policies, which have contributed to robust economic growth, strong fiscal and external positions. Directors have also called for strengthening oversight of risk management practices by ensuring adequate policies and procedures for identifying, monitoring, and controlling systemic risk in the financial system.