Economic Research

In-depth reports on key economic issues.

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    Mon, 27 February 2017

    Fiscal Balance Program 2020: The Path to Fiscal Sustainability

     Along with the 2017 budget statement, the government announced details of the Fiscal Balance Program (FBP 2020), one of the programs highlighted in Vision 2030. The FBP contains all reforms relevant to reaching a balanced budget by 2020 and includes initiatives designated for enhancing spending efficiency, reforming energy prices, and promoting non-oil revenue. The FBP also touches on critical socioeconomic aspects, such as the creation of a “Household Allowance Program”, and the announcement of more detailed plans to support private sector economic activity.

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    Wed, 22 February 2017

    Inflation Update

    The General Authority for Statistics (Gastat) has released the Consumer Price Index data for January, showing negative growth in prices by 0.4 percent year-on-year, the first monthly deflation in twelve years. Looking ahead, we expect inflation to remain subdued in the first six months of 2017, before another hike in household electricity prices pushes up inflation during the second half of 2017. 

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    Tue, 21 February 2017

    Petrochemicals and the Vision 2030

    The Saudi petrochemical industry is vital to the Kingdom’s non-oil economy with chemical and plastic exports comprising a substantial 60 percent share of total non-oil exports. As a result, the sector has been identified by both the National Transformation Program (NTP) 2020 and Vision 2030 to help lead the push away from fossil fuel reliance. But this restructuring of the sector comes at a time when it is already facing up to a number of challenges, both at home and abroad. Besides seeing a drop in global chemical prices in the last two years, the sector has also seen domestic feedstock prices being raised in 2016, with further rises expected in 2020. In addition, global competition is set to intensify, especially from the US and China, where significant rises in petrochemical capacity are expected in the next few years.

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    Thu, 16 February 2017

    Quarterly Oil Market Update: All eyes on OPEC and the US

    Currently, Brent oil is trading at around $55 per barrel, with little deviation from this level in the last two months. This stability in prices is mainly due to coordinated action by OPEC and some non-OPEC members, with January crude oil production data showing OPEC’s oil output was down, month-on-month, by 900 thousand barrels per day. Despite the relatively stable start to the year, oil price volatility is likely to re-emerge during 2017 as global oil markets face up to a rising risk of OPEC noncompliance to production cuts, upward revisions in US oil production, and policy initiatives from the new US administration.

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    Sun, 12 February 2017

    The Saudi Economy in 2017

    We expect the Saudi economy to continue slowing in 2017, dragged down by negative growth in the oil sector. Non-oil sector growth should rebound but remain subdued. As oil prices rebound, the current account deficit will shrink considerably, while the fiscal deficit will fall to single digits. We believe the government will continue to comply with targets specified in the Fiscal Balance Program (FBP 2020), allowing for a smooth adjustment in the fiscal budget while cushioning the impact on growth in the non-oil private sector.

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