The total net assets of Middle East countries placed with banks in the industrialised world fell by just under $4,000 million to $139,000 million between March and June of this year, according to figures from the Bank for International Settlements (BIS).

Data released in a regular BIS report on 28 November show that the change in the figures was due to a fall in Saudi Arabian assets with banks in the BIS reporting area, which includes Western Europe, North America, Japan and some offshore banking centres including Bahrain. Net Saudi assets totalled $49,800 million at the end of June, down from $53,145 million. The BIS figures cover all sectors of a country’s economy.

The positions of other Middle East countries were largely unchanged at the end of the second quarter after improving markedly in the first, apparently under the impact of higher oil prices (MEED 6:9:96).

The position of Algeria and Iran, both of which are net debtors to the banks, both continued the improvement of the first quarter. Egypt’s bank balance fell by about $600 million but remains comfortably in the black at $21,531 million.