Saudi Central Bank Steps Up Efforts to Ease Liquidity Crunch

Saudi Arabia’s central bank has stepped up the use of a mechanism to pump money into the financial system as it looks to tackle a liquidity crunch that has helped push borrowing costs for lenders to the highest in decades, Bloomberg News reported. The latest intervention is relying on open market operations, the people said, transactions that allow the central bank to provide or drain short-term liquidity in exchange for securities from lenders. Unusually for a period of high oil prices, Saudi banks are facing a shortage of liquidity. A rapid rise in lending that’s not been matched by deposit growth has left banks clamoring for funding. Meanwhile, an expected influx of government deposits from soaring crude receipts has not materialized and a previous central bank liquidity injection provided only temporary relief. The monetary authority has stepped up its use of open market operations over the past few weeks to tackle the issue, the people said, asking not be named because the information is private. The effort by SAMA, as the central bank is known, helped stabilize the interest rate banks charge one another for loans, though it remains near a record high. Read more.