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Harnessing Windfall Revenues: Optimal Policies for Resource-Rich Developing Economies

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  • Frederick Van der Ploeg
  • Anthony J. Venables

Abstract

A windfall of natural resource revenue (or foreign aid) faces government with choices of how to manage public debt, investment, and the distribution of funds for consumption, particularly if the windfall is both anticipated and temporary. We show that the permanent income hypothesis prescription of an ever-lasting increase in consumption financed by borrowing ahead of the windfall and then accumulating a Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF) is not optimal for capital-scarce developing economies. Such countries should accumulate public and private capital to accelerate their development and, only if the windfall is large relative to initial foreign debt, is it optimal to build a SWF. The optimal time profile of consumption is biased towards the near future, as compared to the permanent income hypothesis. Outcomes depend on instruments available to government. We study cases where the government can make lump-sum transfers to consumers; where such transfers are impossible so optimal policy involves cutting distortionary taxation in order to raise investment and wages; and where Ricardian consumers can borrow against future revenues, in which case the policy response to possible over-consumption is a high level of investment in infrastructure.

Suggested Citation

  • Frederick Van der Ploeg & Anthony J. Venables, 2009. "Harnessing Windfall Revenues: Optimal Policies for Resource-Rich Developing Economies," CESifo Working Paper Series 2571, CESifo.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_2571
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    natural resource revenue; windfall public revenues; risk premium on foreign debt; public infrastructure; private investment; credit constraints; optimal fiscal policy; debt management; Sovereign Wealth Fund; asset holding subsidy; developing economies;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • E60 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - General
    • F34 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - International Lending and Debt Problems
    • F35 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - Foreign Aid
    • F43 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance - - - Economic Growth of Open Economies
    • H21 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Efficiency; Optimal Taxation
    • H63 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt - - - Debt; Debt Management; Sovereign Debt
    • O11 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Macroeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • Q33 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Nonrenewable Resources and Conservation - - - Resource Booms (Dutch Disease)

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