The government tries to protect the wealth of a nation whose economy has swelled by five times since 1998.
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The oil price was near its lowest in more than a decade, cash reserves were being depleted, emerging markets were in turmoil and Saudi Arabia was beginning to panic.This time, luck might not be enough as the government tries to protect the wealth of a nation whose economy has swelled by five times since then.Reserves at the central bank tumbled 10 percent from a year ago, or by more than $70 billion.With oil prices down by more than half over the past 12 months to below $50, Saudi Arabia faces many of the same financial problems it did in 1998 .It's also not like Saudi Arabia has no control over its destiny.Saudi Arabia still has $664 billion of net foreign assets, equal to almost 90 percent of the economy, and little debt.Even so, the IMF recommends that Saudi Arabia control its growing wage bill, make changes to government subsidies for fuel and electricity and bring in more non-oil revenue through taxes.Fuel subsidies alone will cost Saudi Arabia as much as 195 billion riyals ($52 billion) this year, or 8 percent of GDP, Riyadh-based Samba Financial Group said in an Aug. 18 report.
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