Friday, February 16, 2018

The Resource Curse

By Melissa Mittelman of Bloomberg.

In the book The Economics of Macro Issues, they mention that Russia has many resources but its per capita income is less than that of Luxembourg which has few resources. The book suggests that the economic system matters more that how many resources a country has.

Here are some excerpts from the article, including links to research which says there is no resource curse:
"Striking gold or discovering oil would seem to guarantee instant fortune. Instead, it often leads to conflict, corruption and poverty. History is full of examples of countries whose natural-resource wealth led to less economic success. Revenue from extracting raw materials might be mismanaged or embezzled by government officials, or siphoned off by foreign corporations. The bonanza might crowd out investment in other parts of the economy and make goods and services more expensive. And the country’s fiscal and economic fate might hang on volatile global commodity prices, especially for smaller and less diverse economies. All told, local populations can be left with little to show for their resources except a degraded environment. Economists and social scientists call this phenomenon “the resource curse.” Many countries are trying to determine how to prevent or reverse it."

"The average incomes of African countries, including Angola, Nigeria and Sudan, are low and their health indicators are poor, despite their abundance of oil, diamonds and other precious minerals. While oil exports prop up extensive welfare spending in Middle Eastern petro-states, they remain vulnerable to price swings and their people subject to undemocratic regimes. Brazil continues to grapple with corruption and vast, dangerous slums, though it's rich in resources as varied as oil, iron ore, coffee and soybeans."

"The British economist Richard Auty coined the term “resource curse” in a 1993 book investigating why resource-rich countries under-performed other developing economies. A 1995 study found that economies with high commodities exports grew more slowly from 1971 to 1989, even after controlling for variables such as income and investment rates. Notwithstanding a few success stories (such as Botswana), the negative correlation between raw-material exports and economic growth suggests that resource wealth at least doesn’t help. The most commonly suspected causes include under-investment in other industries (such as manufacturing), exposure to price swings, and concentration of wealth that discourages the development of a rule of law and other conditions needed for a vibrant economy. The resource curse is sometimes lumped with Dutch Disease, named for a 1960s crisis in the Netherlands after it discovered natural gas in the North Sea. It describes what happens when an event like a commodity boom makes a country’s currency more expensive and its other goods less competitive."

"Some researchers question the existence of a resource curse, suggesting that resource wealth helps economic growth after all. Others have suggested that what matters isn’t resource abundance but the amount of diversification in the economy and the strength of a country’s institutions."

"A Stanford University paper challenging the conventional account."

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