Natural Resource Discoveries, Citizen Expectations and Household Decisions
Major oil and gas discoveries are often associated with excitement and jubilation among citizens and government officials. But the extent to which discoveries substantially alter citizen expectations about economic conditions in a country remains an open question. The paper combines Afrobarometer data on household expectations on economic conditions and living standards with the announcement of oil and gas discoveries in Africa to estimate the effect of discoveries on expectations. The identification strategy exploits plausibly exogenous variation in the timing of discoveries relative to the rollout of survey interviews. The study find that discoveries increase expectations of better economic conditions and living standards by 35 and 52 percent respectively. Further, the paper finds that the overall expectations boom effect pertains only to countries with weaker institutions. The paper also provides evidence that households incorporate these expectations into their migration and fertility decisions, with fewer applications in the short run to the U.S. green card lottery and increased childbirth following discovery announcements.
The Oil Nouveau-Riche and Arms Imports
Countries that strike it rich when exploring for oil and gas often fail to see growth materialize. This paper shows that one way things can get messy is via squandering new wealth, based on future resource revenues, on arms imports. In the five years following a giant oil or gas discovery, arms imports increase by 25 percent. The effect is even larger, at 51 percent, when the price of oil is as high as $80 per barrel. These estimates can be interpreted causally as the timing of giant oil discoveries is unpredictable due to the uncertain nature of exploration.
Mining and the Quality of Public Services : The Role of Local Governance and Decentralization
This paper investigates the local effects of mining on the quality of public services and on people's optimism about their future living conditions. It also assesses the mediating role of local institutions and local governments taxing rights in shaping the proximity-to-mine effects. The empirical framework connects more than 130,000 respondents from the Afrobarometer survey data (2005-2015) to their closest mines based on the geolocation coordinates of the enumeration areas (EA) and data on the mines and their respective status from the SNL Metals & Mining. The geo-referenced data are matched with new indicators on local governments~^!!^ taxing rights across the African continent. The results suggest that citizens living near an active mine are less likely to approve government performance in key public goods and services -- including health, job creation and improving living standards of the poor. On the mediating role of local governance and local taxing rights, the findings point to a negative effect of local corruption, yet a positive effect of local authorities’ discretion over tax and revenues. However, the positive marginal effect of local taxing powers tends to reduce in environments with poor quality of local governance, high incidence of bribe payment and low level of trust in local government officials. Residents of mining communities with low corruption and comparatively high-level of raising revenue ability have the highest rate of positive appraisal compared to the other scenarios.
How Did Africa's Prospective Petroleum Producers Fall Victim to the Presource Curse?
This paper reviews resource sector developments in 12 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa that made their first (major) petroleum discoveries during the most recent commodity boom. The analysis, which goes back to 2001, looks at sector forecasts of international organizations, governments, and companies and compares them with the results that emerged. The paper finds that a third of the countries did not make any commercially viable discoveries. Among those that potentially had commercial finds, the latest timelines from discovery to production are 73 percent longer on average than initially expected. In the six countries for which there are comparable data, revenue collected thus far or the most recent revenue projections for countries yet to reach production are 63 percent lower on average than the initial forecasts. All 12 countries experienced a disappointment in at least one of the three dimensions analyzed—and these disappointments are likely to be exacerbated by the recent price crash. The paper also documents the various policies adopted in response to the discoveries and -- with the benefit of hindsight -- finds that, in some cases, this over optimism contributed to the 'presource curse': suboptimal policymaking that did not align with the new realities. Some recommendations are provided on how better to navigate the inherent uncertainties in developing the sector.
One Rule Fits All? Heterogeneous Fiscal Rules for Commodity Exporters When Price Shocks Can Be Persistent: Theory and Evidence
Commodity-exporting developing economies are often characterized as having needlessly procyclical fiscal policy: spending when commodity prices are high and cutting back when prices fall. The standard policy advice is instead to save during price windfalls and maintain spending during price busts. This paper questions this characterization and policy advice. Using a New Keynesian model, it finds that optimal fiscal policy is heterogeneous depending on the commodity exported and exchange rate regime. Optimal fiscal policy is often procyclical in countries with floating exchange rates because many commodity price shocks are highly persistent, and so they should be spent according to the permanent income hypothesis. In contrast, in countries with fixed exchange rates, optimal fiscal policy becomes countercyclical to smooth the business cycle. Empirically, the paper introduces a new measure of fiscal cyclicality, the marginal propensity to spend (MPS) an extra dollar of commodity revenues, and shows that it is moderately procyclical overall but highly heterogeneous across countries depending on their characteristics. Consistent with theory, the MPS is more procyclical in countries with floating exchange rates than those with fixed exchange rates. Moreover, in countries with floating exchange rates, the MPS is higher in countries facing more persistent commodity price shocks.