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A Commodity Curse? The Dynamic Effects of Commodity Prices on Fiscal Performance in Latin America

Medina, Leandro (2010): A Commodity Curse? The Dynamic Effects of Commodity Prices on Fiscal Performance in Latin America.

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Abstract

The recent boom and bust in commodity prices has raised concerns about the impact of volatile commodity prices on Latin American countries’ fiscal positions. Using a novel quarterly dataset─ which includes unique country specific commodity price indices and a comprehensive measure of public expenditures─ this paper analyzes the dynamic effects of commodity price fluctuations on fiscal revenues and expenditures for 8 commodity exporting Latin American countries. The results indicate that Latin American countries’ fiscal positions generally react strongly to shocks to commodity prices, yet there are marked differences across countries in observed reactions. Fiscal variables in Venezuela display the highest sensitivity to commodity price shocks, with expenditures reacting significantly more than revenues. On the other side of the spectrum, Chile’s fiscal indicators react very little to commodity price fluctuations, and their dynamic responses are very similar to those seen in high-income commodity exporting countries. A plausible explanation to this distinct behavior across countries could be related to the efficient application of fiscal rules, accompanied by strong institutions, political commitment and high standards of transparency.

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