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Marek Dabrowski

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Articles by M. D.

Can emerging markets be a source of global troubles again?

May 9, 2019

According to popular perception, emerging-market economies have not experienced serious macroeconomic and financial turbulence since the beginning of this century. This perception was not entirely correct because it disregarded spill-over effects of the global financial crises of 2008–2009, the consequences of the decline of oil and other commodity prices in 2014–2016, economic and financial troubles caused by violent conflicts and regional political instability.

After two turbulent decades (1980s and 1990s) when emerging-market economies were frequent victims of financial crises, in the first two decades of the 21st century their macroeconomic performance improved. Nevertheless, there were three crisis episodes that hit some of these countries: (i) the spill-over effects of the

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ICT revolution key to populist political surge

April 4, 2019

Developments in digital technology have prompted a ‘tabloidisation’ of traditional media, created opportunities for the misuse of information online, and closed the decision-making horizon for politicians.

This article was first published by The International Economy.

Looking only for economic roots of the recent wave of populism may lead to a one-sided diagnosis. It is true that many countries suffer from slow or no growth, financial turbulence, excessive polarisation of income and wealth, a crisis of the welfare state, structural costs of globalisation, technical innovations, and other economic difficulties. However, these difficulties were also experienced in the past and did not lead to such strong political polarisation, at least not in advanced economies.
Furthermore, if we

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Russia’s foreign policy does not help its economic modernisation

March 6, 2019

In the highly interdependent modern world, a country’s economy and its foreign policy are strongly linked. A country’s foreign-policy ambitions should correspond to its economic potential, but Russia’s over-ambitious foreign ventures have exacerbated the negative effects of the numerous economic headwinds it faces.

Interrelation between economic and foreign policy
In the contemporary highly interdependent world, the foreign policy of a country has an important role to play. It is connected to a country’s economy; a country’s foreign-policy ambitions should correspond to its economic potential, or else it can be a costly and usually counterproductive overstretch for the country.
Russia’s place in the world
Russia is a good example of an imbalance between economic potential and

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Economic policy challenges in Southern and Eastern Mediterranean

December 11, 2018

For a long time, southern and eastern Mediterranean countries struggled with serious socio-economic challenges and dysfunctional economic systems and policies. Marek Dabrowski reviews the challenges the region has to face to get out of a low growth trap.

For a long time, southern and eastern Mediterranean countries (henceforth SEMC)[1] struggled with serious socio-economic challenges and dysfunctional economic systems and policies. In the 2010s their macroeconomic performance further deteriorated due to the global and European financial crises, the decline of commodity prices, and the failure of the Arab Spring, which triggered a new wave of intra-regional conflicts and added to the already high geopolitical and security risks. Finally, the badly needed economic and governance

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Examining interrelation between global and national income inequalities

November 15, 2018

Bruegel Annual Meetings 2018
The 2018 Annual Meetings will be held on 3-4 September and will feature sessions on European and global economic governance, as well as finance, energy and innovation.

Speakers: Maria Åsenius, Richard E. Baldwin, Carl Bildt, Barbara Botos, Maria Demertzis, Benjamin Denis, Lowri Evans, Mariya Gabriel, Svend E. Hougaard Jensen, Joanne Kellermann, Jörg Kukies, Emmanuel Lagarrigue, Philippe Lespinard, Rachel Lomax, Dominique Moïsi, Jean Pierre Mustier, Ana Palacio, Jean Pisani-Ferry, Lucrezia Reichlin, Norbert Röttgen, André Sapir, Johan Van Overtveldt, Martin Sandbu, Margrethe Vestager, Reinhilde Veugelers, Nicolas Véron, Thomas Wieser, Guntram B. Wolff and Georg Zachmann
Topic: Energy & Climate, European Macroeconomics & Governance,

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Is this time different? Reflections on recent emerging-market turbulence

November 14, 2018

Since the beginning of 2018, currencies of two large emerging-market economies – Argentina and Turkey – suffered from substantial depreciation. Other currencies also recorded losses. Which factors are determining macroeconomic and financial stability in emerging-market economies? And what can be done to prevent a crisis and avoid its economic, social and political costs?

The essence of the this-time-is-different syndrome is simple. It is rooted in the firmly held belief that financial crises are things that happen to other people in other countries at other times; crises do not happen to us, here and now. We are doing things better, we are smarter, we have learned from past mistakes.
 (Reinhart and Rogoff, 2009, p. 15)
_________________

Summary
Symptoms of currency crisis in

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Are economic and political freedoms interrelated?

October 10, 2018

Democracy has not always accompanied market economy. But in modern societies, economic and political freedoms are increasingly interconnected. Democracy and market economy can support each other. This is particularly true in post-communist economies of Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. Thus, authoritarian tendencies observed in these and other regions can negatively affect quality of economic policy and governance.

Retreat of democracy
After the worldwide triumph of democracy in the 1980s and 1990s, one can observe its partial reversal in the New Millennium. This is the conclusion of two leading global political surveys – the Freedom House’s Freedom in the World (FHFiW) 2018 (Abramowitz, 2018) and the Bertelsmann Foundation’s Transformation Index (BTI) 2018

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Ukraine: The struggle for reforms continues

July 4, 2018

The modernisation of the Ukrainian economy and state continues to develop at an unsatisfactory pace due to a lack of pro-reform political consensus. The two upcoming election campaigns in 2019 (presidential and parliamentary) make the reform process even slower and additionally puts its effectiveness and sustainability under risk. The international community has a limited toolkit to overcome this stalemate.

Introduction
In the Bruegel Policy Contribution series published in September 2017, I analysed the economic and institutional reforms in Ukraine which followed the so-called “Euromaidan” or “Revolution of Dignity” of 2013-2014 (Dabrowski, 2017). The conclusion from my contribution stated that, despite substantial progress achieved since 2014, reforms remained incomplete in many

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Euro-area enlargement: a new opening?

November 2, 2017

8 of the EU27 have not yet joined the Euro, and progress in euro-area enlargement seems to have stalled. Commission President Juncker wants to give new momentum to the process, but the path is full of political and technical hurdles. The Euro is unlikely to have any new members soon.
By:
Marek Dabrowski
Date: November 2, 2017
Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance

In his State of the Union speech on 13 September, European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker raised the prospect of further enlargement of the euro area. He noted that all EU countries – apart from Denmark and the United Kingdom, which have opt-outs – are “required and entitled to join the euro once they fulfil all conditions”. He even proposed the idea

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Ukraine’s oligarchs are bad for democracy and economic reform

October 3, 2017

Ukraine’s late and incomplete economic reform created a class of super-wealthy oligarchs who now stand in the way of further liberalisation. The oligarchs’ oversized influence only deepens public distrust in a structurally weak political system. Nevertheless, Ukraine is making some attempts to uproot corruption and the next steps are clear.
By:
Marek Dabrowski
Date: October 3, 2017
Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance

The slow-reform trap
Ukraine’s reform record has long been disappointing on both the economic and political fronts. While Ukraine avoided falling into full authoritarianism, like many of its post-Soviet neighbours, it nonetheless failed to build a transparent and stable democratic order. Thus, through

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What are China’s global economic intentions?

April 25, 2017

At this January’s Davos meeting, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced to a surprised audience that China would be the world’s new champion of globalisation. Bruegel scholar Marek Dabwoski agrees that a functioning global trade system is in China’s interest.

The speech of President Xi Jinping in Davos should not surprise anybody. For the last thirty years, the Chinese economy has benefited enormously from free trade and financial globalisation. During this period, it moved up from the group of low-income countries to the upper middle-income group and eradicated most of its extreme poverty. According to the IMF World Economic Outlook database, when Chinese market reforms started in 1980, country’s GDP per capita in purchasing power parity terms was equal to only 2.5 percent of that of the United States. In 2015, it reached the level of 25.6 percent of U.S. GDP per capita in PPP terms. In 2014, China became the largest world economy as estimated in PPP terms.
As an upper-middle-income country, China is even more dependent on the uninterrupted functioning of global markets than it was thirty, twenty, or even ten years ago. A substantial part of the Chinese manufacturing industry has become part of global value chains. Moving up within these chains, Chinese enterprises are interested in increasing imports of new technologies.

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Collapse of the Ruble zone and its lessons

March 15, 2017

External Publication

Post-CommunIst tRansItIon and monetary dIsintegration

By:
Marek Dabrowski
Date: March 15, 2017

This essay, published by CESifo, aims to summarise the experiences of the two monetary disintegration episodes, i.e. termination of settlements in TR since 1 January 1991 and the gradual collapse of the Soviet ruble area in 1990–1993. The second section of this paper is devoted to demise of CMEA and TR. The third section describes the collapse of the ruble area in the former USSR based on my earlier publication (Dabrowski 1995). The fourth section analyses macroeconomic consequences of monetary disintegration in the former USSR; and the fth section examines the policy lessons that can be drawn from both episodes.

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The EU should not retaliate against Trump’s protectionism

February 9, 2017

If the US moves ahead with Republican plans to introduce a border adjustment tax, the EU will need to decide on its response. Marek Dabrowski argues that the EU would be unwise to retaliate with its own anti-import policies: the border adjustment tax would be difficult to implement and damaging to the global trade order. Instead the EU should build a broad coalition of allies to defend free trade.

Trump’s protectionist challenge
Mark Hallerberg is right to warn that policies from the new US administration may pose ‘…a challenge to the liberal economic order, of which free trade is the most emblematic tenet’. President Donald Trump already withdrew the US from the unratified Trans-Pacific Partnership and threatens to withdraw from NAFTA.
Meanwhile, the Republican majority in the US House of Representatives has advocated the idea of destination based cash flow tax (DBCFT, called also ‘border adjustment tax’ because it would tax imports and exempt exports). This would replace the current corporate income tax. Whether and when such a tax can be approved remains a big question. However, given Trump’s protectionist views on trade and the House Republicans’ push tolower the tax burden on corporate profits, it may happen in the near future.

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How to balance sovereignty and integration in a voluntary EU

January 12, 2017

The principle of voluntary membership is a central value of the EU project, but it is also a source of many of its problems. How can the member states address those problems in order to repair the EU’s integration architecture?

The European Union and its institutions are often criticised for their supposed ineffectiveness, slowness in responding to various challenges, lack of transparency in decision making and lack of democratic legitimacy. All those who levy such criticisms should remember, however, that many of the weaknesses of the EU institutional setting arise from its voluntary character and the reluctance of EU countries to transfer more powers to the Union. Nevertheless, it is in the interest of all member states to have an effectively functioning Union, which will be able to deliver European public goods to their citizens. Therefore, the member states should be ready to repair the EU’s architecture even at the cost of sharing more sovereignty.
The voluntary principle
As a voluntary union of sovereign and democratic countries, the EU has few historical precedents and contemporary equivalents. Most other federations and confederations, historical or contemporary, were created, at least partly, as a result of wars, conquests, colonisation or other means of coercion.

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Challenges to debt sustainability in advanced economies

December 8, 2016
Challenges to debt sustainability in advanced economies

The gross general government debt-to-GDP ratios in many advanced economies have reached the highest levels in peacetime history and continue to grow, putting into question sovereign solvency in these economies.

Rapid expansion of sovereign debt
The gross general government debt-to-GDP ratios in many advanced economies have reached the highest levels in peacetime history and continue to grow (Table 1), calling into question sovereign solvency in these countries. This worrying picture can be seen as the consequence of the global financial crisis of 2007-2009 and policy response to this turmoil, including large-scale bailouts of financial institutions and active use of countercyclical fiscal measures. However, in a few of the largest economies (the US, Germany, France, the UK) expansion of public debt had already started in the early 2000s or even earlier (Japan). In 2015, only Belgium, Denmark, Israel, Malta, Sweden and Switzerland recorded a lower debt-to-GDP-ratios as compared to 1999.

Source: IMF WEO, April 2016. Note: cells in yellow indicate IMF staff estimates.

In the same year, general government gross debt approached 250 percent of GDP in Japan, and exceeded 100 percent of GDP in Greece, Italy, Portugal, Cyprus, Belgium and the US, in some cases by large margins.

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Are advanced economies at risk of falling into debt traps?

November 10, 2016

One of the consequences of the global financial crisis has been rapid growth in public debt in most advanced economies. This Policy Contribution assesses the size of public debt in advanced economies
and considers the potential consequences of sovereign insolvency.

The gross general government debt-to-GDP ratios in many advanced economies have reached the highest levels in peacetime history and continue to grow, putting into question sovereign solvency in these economies.
In case of new adverse shocks, whether economic or political, global or country-specific, which result in the deterioration of growth prospects or higher real interest rates, or both, the situation could easily get out control.
Apart from the risk of sovereign default, excessive public debt might also have a negative impact on the stability of financial sector and on economic growth in the medium and long term.
Debt sustainability simulations for the group of highly-indebted advanced economies – those in which the general government gross public debt-to-GDP ratio exceeded 80 percent in 2015 – suggest that benefits of the current record-low interest rates and post-crisis growth recovery should be used for fiscal consolidation.
The aim of this should be not only to stop further expansion of debt-to-GDP ratios, but also to gradually reduce them.

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Currency crises in post-Soviet economies — a never ending story?

October 18, 2016

This paper offers an updated and comprehensive analysis of the currency crises in Russia and the former Soviet Union economies.

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, its successor states have suffered from cyclical currency crises. The most recent episode of 2014–2016 was caused by a combination of external and domestic factors.
The former include tighter US monetary policy, slower global growth, and declining commodity prices, whereas the latter include the former Soviet Union (FSU) economies’ extreme macroeconomic fragility (a legacy of past crises), numerous microeconomic rigidities and structural distortions in addition to governmental deficits.
In addition, the Russian–Ukraine conflict dealt a heavy blow to both economies and their neighbors. Effective anti-crisis policies must aim at eliminating all deep-rooted causes of repeated financial and macroeconomic turbulence and must involve deep structural and institutional reforms in the entire region.

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Iran: from isolation to economic cooperation

July 15, 2016

With some sanctions temporarily lifted, now is the chance for Iran to reintegrate into the global economy and political system. But comprehensive economic and political reforms are needed.

Iran, together with the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and Germany, signed a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in July 2015, allowing the EU and US sanctions related to Iran’s nuclear program to be temporarily lifted. This has opened the door to Iran’s gradual reintegration into the global economic and political system (Blockmans et al., 2016).
Reintegration may offer substantial benefits for Iran, its neighbours, and other major economic players, including the EU. However, to grasp the potential benefits of such cooperation, Iran and its partners must bring down existing barriers to trade and investment flows. In particular, Iran should continue its comprehensive economic reforms and abandon the protectionist policies it has conducted since 1950s[1].
Basic facts
Iran has the 18th largest population in the world (approaching 80 million) and the 18th largest economy, with a GDP close to 1.4 trillion international $ in purchasing power parity (PPP) terms[2], just behind Canada, Spain and Turkey. It represents 1.2% of the world’s GDP.

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Concessions offered Britain are key in Brexit debate

June 2, 2016

The concessions granted to the United Kingdom will encourage euroskeptic forces to demand special institutional solutions for other countries.

This text was published in the Spring 2016 issue of The International Economy.

The debate on Brexit focuses on the consequences for the United Kingdom, but largely ignores the impact of the new EU-UK agreement on the European Union. If the “remain” camp succeeds on June 23, 2016, this agreement will be activated with serious consequences for the prospects of the European project.
The most important concession concerns suspension of the reference to “…ever closer union among the peoples of Europe” in the Treaty’s Preamble with respect to the United Kingdom and acceptance that this country “…is not committed to further political integration into the European Union.” Given that each new area of integration within the European Union may involve a transfer of a certain degree of national sovereignty to the EU governing bodies, this means that no substantial treaty changes (of the sort similar to the Maastricht, Amsterdam, Nice, or Lisbon treaties) will be possible in the future (treaty change requires unanimity of all member states).

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Core and periphery: different approaches to unconventional monetary policy

May 24, 2016

Compared with the ‘core’ of the world economy, emerging markets have limited room for manoeuvre when it comes to applying unconventional monetary policy measures.
In the aftermath of the global financial crisis of 2007-2009, central banks in a number of advanced economies rapidly expanded their reserve (base) money and resorted to various unconventional monetary policy measures. Quantitative easing (QE), a massive purchase of securities including Treasury bonds, has played a prominent role in this new toolkit. These new practices have been closely watched by policymakers in emerging-market economies, where there is a temptation to follow the example of ‘core’ central banks such as the US Federal Reserve Board (Fed). This should not be surprising because easing measures always look more attractive for an average politician than austerity. However, it has become clear that the room for policy manoeuvre in the ‘periphery’ is much more limited than in the ‘core’ of the world economy. In this commentary, I will try to explain why[1].
Consequences of financial globalisation
Since the 1980s, the rapid integration of financial markets has had numerous consequences for macroeconomic policy making at the national level.

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EU Association Agreement could help Ukraine to reform

March 16, 2016

Ukraine’s closer ties with the EU have been controversial. The Association Agreement is now facing a referendum in the Netherlands. But what exactly is in the agreement, and what could it mean in practice?
On 6 April the Netherlands will hold a referendum on the new EU-Ukraine Association Agreement. In the meantime, full ratification and implementation is on hold. The EU intended that this agreement would be the blueprint for a new kind of partnership with its Eastern neighbours. It entails substantial political cooperation and includes the creation of a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA). There is no explicit mention of EU membership, but some fear that an Association Agreement will de facto mark the start of EU accession for a large, poor and geopolitically challenging country.
How did we get here?
The EU’s first pact with Ukraine was a Partnership and Cooperation Agreement signed in 1994. In 2007 Ukraine and the EU began negotiating a new form of cooperation, which was given Association Agreement status at the EU-Ukraine Summit in Paris in September 2008. This was also when it was confirmed that the agreement would incorporate a DCFTA, which was made possible by Ukraine’s accession to the World Trade Organisation in February 2008.
Negotiations were completed in December 2011, but it took more than two years before the political and trade sections were signed.

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Belarusian economy: an overview

March 10, 2016

Presentation at the European Parliament – Delegation for Relations with Belarus.
Marek Dabrowski delivered a presentation on the Belarussian economy for the European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Belarus, on 3 March 2016.

Guntram Wolff participated in the enquiry EU Economic and Financial Affairs Sub-Committee organised by the House of Lords EU Financial Affairs Sub-Committee.

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Completing Europe’s economic and monetary union

March 10, 2016

Prospects for regulatory convergence under TTIP
This Policy Contribution was prepared for the European Union Committee’s inquiry into the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. Regulatory harmonisation under TTIP may not lead to emerging markets automatically upgrading to the higher TTIP standards. Domestic priorities and the high demand from a rising price-sensitive group of consumers will likely result in a dual regulatory regime in emerging markets in the medium-term.
By: Suparna Karmakar Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance, Global Economics & Governance, House of Lords Date: November 4, 2013

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Brexit and the EU-UK deal: consequences for the EU

March 9, 2016

The debate on Brexit focuses on the economic and political consequences for the United Kingdom, but ignores the impact of the new EU-UK agreement on the EU. Regardless of the referendum result, the agreement will have serious consequences and will negatively affect prospects for European integration.
A smaller and less influential EU
If the ‘leave’ camp wins the UK referendum on June 23, the EU will become smaller and weaker both in economic and geopolitical terms.
The EU share of the world population will fall from 7.0 to 6.1 percent. In terms of world GDP, in purchasing power parity terms the EU share will decrease from 17.0 to 14.6 percent, and in current international dollars from 23.8 to 20.0 percent. The EU share in global exports of goods and services at current prices and exchange rates will fall from 33.9 to 30.3 percent (Table 1).
The EU’s share in the global financial market, where the City of London plays a dominant role, will suffer even bigger losses. The UK is also an important corporate governance centre, where the headquarters of many transnational corporations and research and innovation centres are based. It is also the source of many high-quality EU civil servants. Excellent British universities offer education to students from the entire Europe and the world.

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Belarus: time to reform

February 1, 2016

Belarus must speed up its transition to a market economy, in order to return to growth and to avoid a new balance of payments crisis. But such reform will face economic, social and political challenges
The unreformed economy, high growth and persistent disequilibria
Belarus has kept a largely non-market economic system since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 (see Dabrowski, 2016). However, despite the slow pace of market reforms, the Belarusian economy recorded impressive growth between 1997 and 2011 (Figure 1).
Such high growth was possible due to the combination of administrative dirigisme, a very high rate of government initiated investment (Figure 2) and a favourable external environment.
Belarus enjoyed privileged terms when reselling and processing Russian oil, high demand for Belarusian fertilizers and chemical products on the world market, and relatively inexpensive consumer goods in other post-Soviet countries, primarily Russia.
However, high growth rates came at the cost of huge macroeconomic disequilibria. Despite government price controls, Belarus has suffered from chronic inflation, as Figure 3 shows. The consumer price index increased more than 17-fold (!)  between 2000 and 2014, giving the country the dubious honour of inflation champion of the former USSR.

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Belarus at a crossroads

January 21, 2016

Despite the slow pace of market reforms, the Belarusian economy recorded quite impressive growth until recently. However the Belarus growth ‘miracle’ cannot be continued, and the reforms that are needed might be difficult to implement. The potential hardship facing Belarus could be at least partly cushioned by external assistance.
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Belarus has maintained a largely non-market economic system. This did not prevent rapid growth of its economy over a sustained period up to 2011. However, the period of economic growth in Belarus seems to be over. The factors that underpinned Belarus’s growth, mainly the beneficial external environment, have gradually disappeared. As a result, the country is confronted by the need to start the far-reaching programme of market-oriented economic reforms and macroeconomic stabilisation which it tried to avoid for so long. Reform will not be easy, economically and politically.
The potential hardship facing Belarus could be at least partly cushioned by external assistance, in the first instance from the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

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The impact of the oil-price shock on net oil exporters

November 24, 2015

In the second half of 2014 and early 2015, international oil prices approximately halved. What have been the consequences of this sharp decline on net oil exporters, and what have been their policy responses?
The sharp decline in oil prices in 2014-2015 (Figure 1) generated a heavy macroeconomic shock on net oil exporters, especially those whose GDP and exports are dominated by oil.
We analysed changes in key macroeconomic and fiscal indicators of selected oil producers between 2013 (the last full year of high oil prices) and 2015 (the first full year of low oil prices) as reported in the October 2015 edition of the IMF World Economic Outlook database[1] and other IMF and World Bank data sources[2]. Our analysis included changes in real GDP, current account balances, international reserves, general government (GG) balances, gross and net GG debt, changes in nominal exchange rates and inflation. Based on these variables we were able to draw a tentative picture of the differentiated impact of oil price shock on individual oil exporters, and their policy responses.
Our analysis covers only partly those oil exporters that are either affected by wars and conflicts (Iraq, Libya, Sudan and Syria) or represent largely non-market economic systems and policies with domestic price controls, multiple exchange rates and heavy import and export restrictions (Venezuela and Iran)[3].

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