Qatar leads growth in GCC money supply

Posted on : Thu, 18 Oct 2012

Doha, 18 Oct 2012 - GCC countries continue to have ample domestic liquidity, according to QNB Group analysis. Higher energy prices and increased hydrocarbons production have driven growth in credit, resulting in an expansion of the money supply. The main driver of money supply growth is credit expansion. However, there is considerable variation in liquidity growth across the GCC.

The overall domestic liquidity in the GCC region, as measured through the broad money supply (M2), grew by 5.2% in the year up to August 2012 to reach US$778bn. The components of broad money supply are M1 and quasi-money. M1, which includes physical currency in circulation and current accounts, rose by 8.8% to US$364bn. Quasi money, which includes foreign currency accounts and longer term deposits, increased by 2.0% to US$413bn.

Qatar recorded the highest broad money supply growth in the region in 2011 and during the first eight months of 2012. Qatar’s M2 grew by 17.1% in 2011 and 19.1% in the year until August 2012, to reach US$101bn. This is because the trends in hydrocarbon wealth creation and government spending were particularly strong in Qatar, driving rapid credit growth. As a result, quasi-money went up substantially.

In response to this strong growth in money supply, Qatar Central Bank started issuing treasury bills in May 2011 to lap up the excess domestic liquidity and also to help build a Qatari riyal yield curve.

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Money supply in Saudi Arabia, which is the largest in the GCC region, showed a more mild growth of 4.7% in the year up to August 2012. The gains came mainly from an increase in the currency in circulation and demand deposits. Saudi Arabia has a different money supply make up to other GCC countries, with a predominance of shorter-term deposits. As a result, M1 took a 78% share of the broad money supply in Saudi Arabia as at August 2012.

Money supply growth in the UAE has recovered; however, it is affected by the significant investments in the real estate sector and the pick-up in real estate activity in recent months, which has led to increased credit to the sector.

Driving the overall money supply growth in the GCC has been the expansion in credit, which increased for the GCC region by 7.8% for the year up to August 2012 to reach US$833bn. Qatar had the most rapid credit growth in the region, with loans extended by banks going up by 18.5% in the year up to August 2012 to US$131.4bn. The loans disbursed by banks in Saudi Arabia went up by 12.2% to reach US$256.2bn as at August 2012. In the UAE, which has the largest loan book in the region, overall lending moved up by 1.8% to US$296.9bn as at August 2012.

With huge project financing needs coming up over the next decade, GCC countries have been successful in obtaining credit lines though international project financing syndications. The corporate debt capital markets have also emerged as a good funding option. During the year up to August 2012, debt issuance in the MENA region reached a record level of US$28.2bn, according to data from Dealogic. The GCC countries are considering further developing their own domestic debt capital markets and there is also potential for local banks to collaborate to a greater extent by offering more syndicated loans, according to QNB Group.