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Is Sugar Sweeter at the Pump? The Macroeconomic Impact of Brazil's Alternative Energy Program

Author

Listed:
  • Marc D. Weidenmier
  • Joseph H. Davis
  • Roger Aliaga-Diaz

Abstract

The recent world energy crisis raises serious questions about the extent to which the United States should increase domestic oil production and develop alternative sources of energy. We examine the energy developments in Brazil as an important experiment. Brazil has reduced its share of imported oil more than any other major economy in the world in the last 30 years, from 70 percent in the 1970s to only 10 percent today. Brazil has largely achieved this goal by: (1) increasing domestic oil production and (2) developing one of the world's largest and most competitive sources of renewable energy -- sugarcane ethanol -- that now accounts for 50 percent of Brazil's total gasoline consumption. A counterfactual analysis of economic growth in Brazil from 1980-2008 suggests that GDP is almost 35 percent higher today because of increased domestic oil production and the development of sugarcane ethanol. We also find a notable reduction in business-cycle volatility as a result of Brazil's progression to a more diversified energy program. Nearly three-fourths of the welfare benefits have come from domestic oil drilling, however, as rents have been paid to domestic factors of production during a time of rising oil prices. We discuss the potential implications of Brazil's energy program for the U.S. economy by conducting historical counterfactual exercises on U.S. real GDP growth since the 1970s.

Suggested Citation

  • Marc D. Weidenmier & Joseph H. Davis & Roger Aliaga-Diaz, 2008. "Is Sugar Sweeter at the Pump? The Macroeconomic Impact of Brazil's Alternative Energy Program," NBER Working Papers 14362, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14362
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Hamilton, James D., 1996. "This is what happened to the oil price-macroeconomy relationship," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 38(2), pages 215-220, October.
    2. James D. Hamilton, 1985. "Historical Causes of Postwar Oil Shocks and Recessions," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 1), pages 97-116.
    3. Lutz Kilian, 2008. "Exogenous Oil Supply Shocks: How Big Are They and How Much Do They Matter for the U.S. Economy?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 90(2), pages 216-240, May.
    4. Hooker, Mark A, 2002. "Are Oil Shocks Inflationary? Asymmetric and Nonlinear Specifications versus Changes in Regime," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 34(2), pages 540-561, May.
    5. Hamilton, James D., 2003. "What is an oil shock?," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 113(2), pages 363-398, April.
    6. Lutz Kilian, 2008. "A Comparison of the Effects of Exogenous Oil Supply Shocks on Output and Inflation in the G7 Countries," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 6(1), pages 78-121, March.
    7. Raymond, Jennie E & Rich, Robert W, 1997. "Oil and the Macroeconomy: A Markov State-Switching Approach," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 29(2), pages 193-213, May.
    8. Hooker, Mark A., 1996. "This is what happened to the oil price-macroeconomy relationship: Reply," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 38(2), pages 221-222, October.
    9. Hamilton, James D, 1983. "Oil and the Macroeconomy since World War II," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 91(2), pages 228-248, April.
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    Cited by:

    1. Cavalcanti, Tiago & Jalles, João Tovar, 2013. "Macroeconomic effects of oil price shocks in Brazil and in the United States," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 104(C), pages 475-486.
    2. Ricardo Hausmann & Rodrigo Wagner, 2009. "Certification Strategies, Industrial Development and a Global Market for Biofuels," CID Working Papers 192, Center for International Development at Harvard University.
    3. LUCIANO LOSEKANN & Eduardo Pontual Ribeiro & Rosemarie BrökerBone & Adilson de Oliveira, 2011. "Energy Restrictions toGrowth: the past, present and future of energy supply in Brazil," Anais do XXXVII Encontro Nacional de Economia [Proceedings of the 37th Brazilian Economics Meeting] 97, ANPEC - Associação Nacional dos Centros de Pós-Graduação em Economia [Brazilian Association of Graduate Programs in Economics].

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E3 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles
    • N1 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations

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