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Saudi Arabia Looks Beyond Oil

In the latest edition of the Numbers Report, we’ll take a look at some of the most interesting figures put out this week in the energy sector. Each week we’ll dig into some data and provide a bit of explanation on what drives the numbers.

Let’s take a look.

1. Saudi Arabia eyes post-oil age

(Click to enlarge)

- Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman made headlines when he offered hints into the government’s plan to setup a $2 trillion sovereign wealth fund to diversify the Saudi economy. Part of the plan is to put parts of Saudi Aramco up for an IPO, although less than 5 percent of the company. The IPO will come in 2017 or 2018.
- As Bloomberg notes, that fund would be larger than Apple, Microsoft, Google, and Berkshire Hathaway. By 2020, the fund will invest 50 percent of its $2 trillion in foreign assets. The Prince said that the government is already eyeing two targets for a takeover.
- It is also looking at an overhaul to the economy to bring in non-oil revenue, including its first VAT and other taxes on luxury items. Austerity measures are also bringing about the largest changes to the economy in decades, with cuts to government spending and to an array of subsidies. They are starting up a program of putting fees on some foreign workers, a drastic change for a country that relies on so many non-Saudi nationals for its workforce.
- Non-oil revenues rose to 163.5 billion riyals ($44 billion) in 2015, or a 35 percent increase from the year before.
- The proposed $2 trillion fund will continue to move Saudi Arabia gradually away from oil revenues. “So within 20 years, we will be an economy or state that doesn’t depend mainly on oil,” the Prince said.

2. When oil prices rise, GDP goes…up?

- Goldman Sachs finds that U.S. GDP would rise if oil prices rise, a counterintuitive argument given that the U.S. is the world’s largest consumer of oil. This echoes a recent IMF report, although for different reasons.
- Supply elasticity is greater than demand elasticity, meaning, there is a bigger drop off from the oil industry when prices crash, which outweighs the benefit to the economy from higher consumer demand. Consumers have more money, but the drop in supply will lead to more oil imports, which worsens the U.S. trade deficit.
- Under three scenarios – oil prices rising to $30, $50, or $70 by mid-2017 –…




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