On the choice of an anchor for the GCC currency: does the symmetry of shocks extend to both the oil and the non-oil sectors?
This paper assesses the costs of forming a monetary union among the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries by looking at economic linkages within the GCC, and between the GCC and the potential anchors (the US, and major European countries such as France, Germany and Italy) for their proposed new currency. We investigate the importance of the US dollar compared to the Euro by focusing on aggregate demand (AD) and aggregate supply (AS) shock symmetry across these countries. We differentiated between oil and non-oil sector by estimating structural vector autoregression (SVAR) models with a combination of variables: oil output, non-oil output, total output, nominal/real price of oil and overall price level. One set of models was identified with the long-run restrictions of Blanchard and Quah (1989), whereas the set that assesses the robustness of the findings was estimated with the short-run restrictions of Sims (1992). We find overwhelming support for AD shock symmetry across the GCC countries and between the GCC and the US, but none for the major European countries with the GCC. Non-oil AS shocks are mostly asymmetric, but oil AS shocks are mostly symmetric when the real price of oil is included. This agrees with the view that GCC countries are subjected to common oil shocks. It also suggests that previous VAR models estimated to pass judgment on the feasibility of monetary union across GCC countries may have suffered from problems of mis-specification if the real price of oil was not . We surmise that the US dollar is a better anchor candidate for anchoring the new GCC currency than the Euro, since US monetary policy can at least help smooth demand shocks in these countries.
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