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Uncertainty, instability, and irreversible investment : theory, evidence, and lessons for Africa

  • Serven, Luis

A recent (but rapidly growing) literature has focused on how uncertainty and instability affect the adoption of fixed investment projects. That literature shows that if fixed investment projects are costly or impossible to reverse, uncertainty can become a powerful deterrent to investment. The author reviews the literature on irreversible investment to identify the implications for macroeconomic policy and to gauge the practical importance, especially for sub-Saharan Africa, of the link between uncertainty and investment. He presents empirical evidence on the negative association between investment performance and measures of instability, using cross-section time-series data. That evidence suggests that instability and uncertainty are important factors in Africa's poor investment record over the last two decades.

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Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 1722.

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Date of creation: 28 Feb 1997
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Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:1722
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