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2014-10-12 20:15:00



The continuing slump in global oil prices is punching holes in the budgets of oil-producing countries, including some OPEC members such as Iraq and Libya that are struggling with severe political and security problems.

Many members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries need oil prices to average way above the current Brent crude oil price of $90 a barrel to balance their books. They have ratcheted up annual spending since the Arab Spring in 2011—and rely heavily on oil-export receipts for income.

But most Gulf monarchies with relatively small populations, such as OPEC's biggest producer, Saudi Arabia, can cope with lower oil prices for some time, making it less urgent for them to cut output to boost prices.

Saudi Arabia said Friday it had increased crude output by 107,000 barrels a day in September to 9.7 million barrels daily. OPEC in total increased output last month to its highest level in more than a year.

That means the current price war within OPEC is set to continue, putting further pressure on weaker nations.

This week, Iran cut the price at which it sells light crude oil to Asia to its lowest level since December 2008, far below the $140 a barrel that analysts say it needs to balance its budget. The country is already subject to stifling international sanctions that have led to a protracted economic contraction.

"While Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates could withstand a...drop in oil prices, many OPEC members will likely feel financial strain, making it hard to come to a consensus," Morgan Stanley analysts said in a recent note.

Concern is rising fast in Iraq, where pressure to spend more on security is intense amid the advance of radical Islamic State fighters. It needs oil prices at around $106 a barrel to avoid an annual budget deficit, the International Monetary Fund estimates, a break-even level already 12% higher than in 2011.

"Our budget 95% depends on oil, so if there's any decrease in the price, sure, it will negatively affect our budget," said Najeeba Najeeb, a lawmaker with the Kurdistan Democratic Party. An Iraqi government spokesman didn't respond to a request to comment.

Libya's government estimates its budget may have to assume a sharp fall in oil prices, meaning pressure to cut outlays is getting higher, according to a government official. But as it battles rebels often aligned with al Qaeda and Islamic State, spending on "security and military defense is paramount," said Salah al-Suhbi, a Libyan parliament member.

Algeria raised its welfare spending after neighbors Libya and Tunisia toppled their leaders in 2011. But it now needs oil prices at $121 a barrel to avoid a budget deficit, the IMF estimates, and could slip into the red in 2014 for the first time in 15 years. Algeria's finance ministry declined to comment.

Struggling OPEC members are suffering partly for failing to diversify their economies when oil prices were high, analysts say. They also haven't invested enough in their oil industries to sustain them through leaner times.

Countries faced with mounting deficits will now "hardly be able to fund their share of [exploration and production] investment" said Ali Aissaoui, a consultant at Arab Petroleum Investments Corp., a bank owned by Arab oil producers.


Nor will tapping international debt markets be easy. Major ratings firms don't even assign credit ratings to Iraq and Libya. They rate the debt of fellow OPEC members Angola and Nigeria as speculative, making funding very expensive. The cost of servicing Nigerian debt has doubled in four years, according to its Debt Management Office.

Even Saudi Arabia's finances are getting tighter. It needs oil to average $93 per barrel to stay in the black, Deutsche Bank estimates. But with gross government debt at only 2.7% of gross domestic product in 2013, according to the IMF, the kingdom can suffer budget pain much more easily than its OPEC peers.




2018, June, 18, 14:00:00


IMF - Within the next few years, the U.S. economy is expected to enter its longest expansion in recorded history. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and the approved increase in spending are providing a significant boost to the economy. We forecast growth of close to 3 percent this year but falling from that level over the medium-term. In my discussions with Secretary Mnuchin he was clear that he regards our medium-term outlook as too pessimistic. Frankly, I hope he is right. That would be good for both the U.S. and the world economy.

2018, June, 18, 13:55:00


IMF - The near-term outlook for the U.S. economy is one of strong growth and job creation. Unemployment is already near levels not seen since the late 1960s and growth is set to accelerate, aided by a near-term fiscal stimulus, a welcome recovery of private investment, and supportive financial conditions. These positive outturns have supported, and been reinforced by, a favorable external environment with a broad-based pick up in global activity. Next year, the U.S. economy is expected to mark the longest expansion in its recorded history. The balance of evidence suggests that the U.S. economy is beyond full employment.

2018, June, 18, 13:50:00


U.S. FRB - Industrial production edged down 0.1 percent in May after rising 0.9 percent in April. Manufacturing production fell 0.7 percent in May, largely because truck assemblies were disrupted by a major fire at a parts supplier. Excluding motor vehicles and parts, factory output moved down 0.2 percent. The index for mining rose 1.8 percent, its fourth consecutive month of growth; the output of utilities moved up 1.1 percent. At 107.3 percent of its 2012 average, total industrial production was 3.5 percent higher in May than it was a year earlier. Capacity utilization for the industrial sector decreased 0.2 percentage point in May to 77.9 percent, a rate that is 1.9 percentage points below its long-run (1972–2017) average.

2018, June, 18, 13:45:00


IMF - South Africa’s potential is significant, yet growth over the past five years has not benefitted from the global recovery. The economy is globally positioned, sophisticated, and diversified, and several sectors—agribusiness, mining, manufacturing, and services—have capacity for expansion. Combined with strong institutions and a young workforce, opportunities are vast. However, several constraints have held growth back. Policy uncertainty and a regulatory environment not conducive to private investment have resulted in GDP growth rates that have not kept up with those of population growth, reducing income per capita, and hurting disproportionately the poor.

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