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Endowments, Fiscal Federalism, and the Cost of Capital for States: Evidence from Brazil, 1891-1930

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  • André C. Martínez Fritscher
  • Aldo Musacchio

Abstract

In the last few years there has been an explosion in the number of papers that aim to explain what determines country risk (defined as the difference between the yield of a sovereign’s bonds and the risk free rate). In this paper, we contribute to the discussion using by showing that Brazilian states with natural endowments that allowed them to export commodities that were in high demand (e.g., rubber and coffee) between 1891 and 1930 ended up having higher revenues per capita and, thus, lower cost of capital. The link between exports and state government revenues works in the Brazilian case because of the extreme form of fiscal federalism that the Brazilian government adopted in the Constitution of 1891, giving state governments the sole right to tax exports. We create a panel of state debt risk premia and a series of state level fiscal variables and we show, using OLS, that having specific commodities gave states access capital in better terms (i.e., lower risk premium) in international markets. We also confirm our results that states with better commodities had lower risk premia when we use export price indices for each of the states as instruments for state revenue per capita.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 15411.

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Date of creation: Oct 2009
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Publication status: published as Martinez Fritscher, André C. & Musacchio, Aldo, 2010."Endowments, fiscal federalism and the cost of capital for states: evidence from Brazil, 1891–1930," Financial History Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 17(01), pages 13-50, April.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15411

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  1. Sussman, Nathan & Yafeh, Yishay, 2000. "Institutions, Reforms, and Country Risk: Lessons from Japanese Government Debt in the Meiji Era," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 60(02), pages 442-467, June.
  2. Yingyi Qian & Barry R. Weingast, 1997. "Federalism as a Commitment to Reserving Market Incentives," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 11(4), pages 83-92, Fall.
  3. Easterly, William & Levine, Ross, 2003. "Tropics, germs, and crops: how endowments influence economic development," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(1), pages 3-39, January.
  4. Hugh Rockoff & Michael D. Bordo, 1996. "The Gold Standard as a "Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval"," Departmental Working Papers 199528, Rutgers University, Department of Economics.
  5. North, Douglass C. & Weingast, Barry R., 1989. "Constitutions and Commitment: The Evolution of Institutions Governing Public Choice in Seventeenth-Century England," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 49(04), pages 803-832, December.
  6. Musacchio,Aldo, 2009. "Experiments in Financial Democracy," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521518895, October.
  7. Joana Naritomi & Rodrigo R. Soares & Juliano J. Assunção, 2007. "Rent Seeking and the Unveiling of 'De Facto' Institutions: Development and Colonial Heritage within Brazil," NBER Working Papers 13545, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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