IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Commodity price volatility and Tax revenues: Evidence from developing countries


  • Samuel GUERINEAU

    () (Centre d'Etudes et de Recherches sur le Développement International(CERDI))

  • Hélène EHRHART

    () (Centre d'Etudes et de Recherches sur le Développement International(CERDI))


The recent boom and bust in commodity prices has renewed the policymakers’ interest in three complementary issues: i) characteristics and determinants of commodity price instability, ii) its macroeconomic effects and, iii) the optimal policy responses to this instability. This work falls within the scope of studies dedicated to the macroeconomic effects of commodity price instability, but focuses on the impact on public finance, while existing works were concentrated on growth. This paper also differs from the few previous studies on two aspects. First, we test the impact of commodity price volatility rather than focusing only on price levels. Second, we use disaggregated data on tax revenues (income tax, consumption tax and international trade tax) and on commodity prices (agricultural products, minerals and energy) in order to identify transmission channels between world prices and public finance variables. Our empirical analysis is carried out on 90 developing countries over 1980-2008. We compute an index which measures the volatility of the international price of 41 commodities in the sectors of agriculture, minerals and energy. We find robust evidence that tax revenues in developing countries increase with the rise of commodity prices but that they are hurt by the volatility of these prices. More specifically, price short-run volatility of imported commodities hurts tax revenues through trade and consumption taxes, while price medium-run volatility of export hurts tax revenues through both indirect and direct taxes. These findings point at the detrimental effect of commodity price volatility on developing countries public finances and highlight further the importance of finding ways to limit this price volatility and to implement policy measures to mitigate its adverse effects.

Suggested Citation

  • Samuel GUERINEAU & Hélène EHRHART, 2011. "Commodity price volatility and Tax revenues: Evidence from developing countries," Working Papers 201131, CERDI.
  • Handle: RePEc:cdi:wpaper:1308

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Ramey, Garey & Ramey, Valerie A, 1995. "Cross-Country Evidence on the Link between Volatility and Growth," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(5), pages 1138-1151, December.
    2. M. Ayhan Kose & Raymond Riezman, 2013. "Trade shocks and macroeconomic fluctuations in Africa," World Scientific Book Chapters,in: International Trade Agreements and Political Economy, chapter 19, pages 369-394 World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
    3. Julie Subervie, 2008. "The Variable Response of Agricultural Supply to World Price Instability in Developing Countries," Journal of Agricultural Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 59(1), pages 72-92, February.
    4. Francis Y Kumah & John M Matovu, 2007. "Commodity Price Shocks and the Odds on Fiscal Performance: A Structural Vector Autoregression Approach," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 54(1), pages 91-112, May.
    5. Paul Collier & Benedikt Goderis, 2007. "Commodity Prices, Growth, and the Natural Resource Curse: Reconciling a Conundrum," CSAE Working Paper Series 2007-15, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
    6. Paul Clist & Oliver Morrissey, 2011. "Aid and tax revenue: Signs of a positive effect since the 1980s," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 23(2), pages 165-180, March.
    7. Cashin, Paul & McDermott, C. John & Scott, Alasdair, 2002. "Booms and slumps in world commodity prices," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(1), pages 277-296, October.
    8. Guillaumont, Patrick, 1987. "From export instability effects to international stabilization policies," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 15(5), pages 633-643, May.
    9. Keen, Michael & Lockwood, Ben, 2010. "The value added tax: Its causes and consequences," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(2), pages 138-151, July.
    10. Aghion, Philippe & Bacchetta, Philippe & Rancière, Romain & Rogoff, Kenneth, 2009. "Exchange rate volatility and productivity growth: The role of financial development," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(4), pages 494-513, May.
    11. Khattry, Barsha & Mohan Rao, J., 2002. "Fiscal Faux Pas?: An Analysis of the Revenue Implications of Trade Liberalization," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 30(8), pages 1431-1444, August.
    12. Cashin, Paul & McDermott, C. John & Pattillo, Catherine, 2004. "Terms of trade shocks in Africa: are they short-lived or long-lived?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 73(2), pages 727-744, April.
    13. Raddatz, Claudio, 2007. "Are external shocks responsible for the instability of output in low-income countries?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(1), pages 155-187, September.
    14. Adam, Christopher S. & Bevan, David L. & Chambas, Gerard, 2001. "Exchange rate regimes and revenue performance in Sub-Saharan Africa," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 64(1), pages 173-213, February.
    15. Mendoza, Enrique G., 1997. "Terms-of-trade uncertainty and economic growth," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(2), pages 323-356, December.
    16. Deaton, Angus & Miller, Ron, 1996. "International Commodity Prices, Macroeconomic Performance and Politics in Sub-Saharan Africa," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 5(3), pages 99-191, October.
    17. Blundell, Richard & Bond, Stephen, 1998. "Initial conditions and moment restrictions in dynamic panel data models," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 87(1), pages 115-143, August.
    18. Talvi, Ernesto & Vegh, Carlos A., 2005. "Tax base variability and procyclical fiscal policy in developing countries," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 78(1), pages 156-190, October.
    19. Bleaney, Michael & Greenaway, David, 2001. "The impact of terms of trade and real exchange rate volatility on investment and growth in sub-Saharan Africa," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(2), pages 491-500, August.
    20. Leandro Medina, 2010. "The Dynamic Effects of Commodity Prices on Fiscal Performance in Latin America," IMF Working Papers 10/192, International Monetary Fund.
    21. Blattman, Christopher & Hwang, Jason & Williamson, Jeffrey G., 2007. "Winners and losers in the commodity lottery: The impact of terms of trade growth and volatility in the Periphery 1870-1939," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 82(1), pages 156-179, January.
    22. Nickell, Stephen J, 1981. "Biases in Dynamic Models with Fixed Effects," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 49(6), pages 1417-1426, November.
    23. Windmeijer, Frank, 2005. "A finite sample correction for the variance of linear efficient two-step GMM estimators," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 126(1), pages 25-51, May.
    24. Angus Deaton, 1999. "Commodity Prices and Growth in Africa," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 13(3), pages 23-40, Summer.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    Price Volatility; Primary Commodities; Tax Revenues; Developing economies.;

    JEL classification:

    • F10 - International Economics - - Trade - - - General
    • O13 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Agriculture; Natural Resources; Environment; Other Primary Products
    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cdi:wpaper:1308. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Vincent Mazenod). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.