Mideast Countries Face $1 Trillion Budget Shortfall If Oil Keeps Falling: IMF Official

Middle Eastern oil exporters face a combined $1 trillion budget shortfall in the next five years if crude prices stay at present lows and economic reforms aren’t introduced more rapidly, an International Monetary Fund official said.

Countries such as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait are coping with the impact of falling oil prices CLZ5, -1.88% by drawing down some of the vast reserves they built up in recent years thanks to high oil prices. They’ve also started borrowing more, though spending on large infrastructure projects and social handouts hasn’t significantly come down yet.

Masood Ahmed, director of the IMF’s Middle East and Central Asia Department, says these oil-rich countries for now have the capacity to borrow more from the markets, but time is running out because most countries in the region will have burned through their reserves within five years.

“It has to be accompanied by a plan to find a better balance between expenditures and income in the medium term,” Ahmed told The Wall Street Journal.

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Craig Erlam

Craig Erlam

Senior Currency Analyst at OANDA
Based in London, England, Craig Erlam joined OANDA in 2015 as a Market Analyst. With more than five years' experience as a financial market analyst and trader, he focuses on both fundamental and technical analysis while conducting macroeconomic commentary. He has been published by The Financial Times, Reuters, the Wall Street Journal and The Telegraph, and he also appears regularly as a guest commentator on networks including Sky News, Bloomberg, CNBC and BBC. Craig holds a full membership to the Society of Technical Analysts and he is recognized as a Certified Financial Technician by the International Federation of Technical Analysts.