Since we last updated the state of Saudi Arabia's reserve stash, things have gone from bad to worse. It appears the battle to crush US Shale producers is taking its toll as The FT reports, Saudi Arabia is burning through its foreign reserves at a record rate as the kingdom seeks to maintain spending plans (and thus social stability) despite lower oil prices. All the time The Fed remains 'easy', no matter how negative US Shale cashflows are, the muppets will buy their debt and keep the mal-invested market alive. Saudi reserves are now their lowest in almost 2 years (but they have plenty more to chew through to out-wait The Fed).
Saudi Reserves have dropped to 2 year lows and fallen by the most ever in the last 2 months...
The central bank’s foreign reserves have dropped by $36bn, or 5 per cent, over the past two months, as newly crowned King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud dips into Riyadh’s rainy-day fund and increases domestic borrowing to fund public sector salaries and large development projects.
The latest data show Saudi’s foreign reserves dropped by $16bn to $698bn in March, driven by public sector bonuses paid by King Salman after he assumed power in January. This follows a fall of $20bn in February. Saudi Arabia has spent $47bn of foreign reserves since October.
As one analyst noted, “There is a need to rationalise spending,” as King Salman promised a bonus payment for military personnel engaged in the kingdom’s month-long bombardment of Houthi rebels in Yemen, a campaign that itself added pressure to state coffers.
“The [military] bonuses are not an encouraging sign,” said Steffen Herthog of the London School of Economics. “It shows the knee-jerk reaction to political challenges is to distribute more money.”
* * *
The royal family, whose social contract with the people offers cradle-to-grave care in return for loyalty, is seeking to reduce state subsidies without sparking popular anger. But analysts are unclear how quickly the government can move on such a sensitive topic.
* * *
Simply out, as long as The Fed keeps ZIRP, it will cost Saudi Arabia.