Saturday, February 26, 2011

The curse of oil

A piece in this past week's Wash. Post about why the countries in the Mideast now undergoing political turmoil are also in need of economic renovation had a few too many quotes from IMF people for my taste, but it did include an interesting chart (via the IMF) showing that even Saudi Arabia's GDP per capita has declined, albeit slightly, over the 1980-2010 period (measured in inflation-adjusted dollars). The article did not use the term 'resource curse' but its main point is that oil revenue (in the case of Egypt, revenue from tourism and the Suez Canal) has helped these regimes to avoid the kinds of economic measures less well-endowed countries have taken. Even an opponent of neoliberalism, which I am, would probably have to admit that the state's domination of the economy in many of these societies has not served them well.

(Note: The GDP chart is in the hard-copy version but apparently not in the online version of the article.)

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