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Oil Revenues, Government Spending Policy, and Growth

PFM, Vol. 12 No. 2, (2012)

This study argues that government spending composition determines how oil abundance ultimately impacts growth. Using dynamic panel-data GMM and PMG techniques on a panel of oil exporters, we find that the negative growth effect of oil price volatility is channeled through fiscal policy. In particular, revenue windfalls may impede growth through at least three channels: (i) weakening the domestic tax base, (ii) lowering the social return on new public capital, and (iii) intensifying political spending pressures resulting from the accumula-tion of surpluses. The main policy implication for oil-exporting countries is that it is impera-tive to use strict fiscal rules, backed by the appropriate political incentives, to insulate public spending from oil cycles. Investing the surplus (in sovereign wealth funds) or retiring public debt amid oil windfalls would alleviate competitive rent-seeking pressures and enhance the social gains from revenue booms.

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