The third and final day of the Qatar Economic Forum focused on topics related to the state of the global economy in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and recovery expectations.
One panel discussion discussed the growth goals of 5G and the impact it will have on trade in the future, as well as the Internet of Things (IoT) role in addressing future health emergencies.
In the session ‘Preparing for the Future: IoTs Role in Future Health Emergencies’, Director of Public Health Department at Ministry of Public Health in the State of Qatar HE Sheikh Dr. Mohammed bin Hamad Al-Thani discussed Qatar’s experience in using the latest technologies to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, stressing that it was an important tool for responding to the challenges posed by the epidemic.
The debate around inflationary risks from the extensive stimulus during the pandemic will complicate talks of a return to normalization, UBS Chairman Axel Weber said. Forecasts so far are not showing any downside risks for inflation in the next three to four quarters, but nervousness is beginning to creep into the central banking community, he said.
The fear is that the return to a full-throttle economy, combined with bottlenecks, will lead to some inflationary readings that the world has not been used to for the last decade or so, Weber said. That may make some investors and consumers nervous, he added.
On the same panel, Qatar Central Bank Governor Sheikh Abdulla bin Saoud Al Thani said inflation isn’t here to stay for the long term as some pressures might form from supply not meeting demand.
When asked about having a more flexible exchange rate, he said Qatar’s currency peg to the U.S. dollar had mitigated risk. “I don’t think we will change our regime at the moment,” he said. “There is no need.”
Extreme swings in Bitcoin and other tokens are hampering their appeal for institutional investors like Qatar Investment Authority. QIA is one of the world’s largest sovereign wealth funds, with assets estimated at over $360 billion by Global SWF.
Cryptocurrencies “need a bit of maturity before we make our view about investing in that space,” QIA Chief Executive Officer Mansoor Bin Ebrahim Al Mahmoud said.
Bitcoin has lost more than 50% from its mid-April high of almost $65,000. The coin started 2021 trading around $29,000 following a fourfold increase in 2020. It bounced back on Wednesday after earlier whipsawing investors with a dip below $30,000.