Front Matter

Front Matter

Amadou Sy, Rabah Arezki, and Thorvaldur Gylfason
Published Date:
January 2012
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© 2011 International Monetary Fund

Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Beyond the curse : policies to harness the power of natural resources / editors, Rabah Arezki, Thorvaldur Gylfason, and Amadou Sy. – Washington, DC : International Monetary Fund, 2011.

p. ; cm.

This book is based on a high level seminar on natural resource, finance and development, IMF Institute and Central Bank of Algeria, Algiers, November, 4-5, 2010.

Includes bibliographical references.

ISBN 9781616351458

1. Natural resources. 2. Resource curse. 3. Fiscal policy. 4. Monetary policy. 5. Foreign exchange rates. 6. Diversification in industry. 7. Economic development. 8. Primary commodities. 9. Prices. 10. Exports. 11. Finance. 12. Financial institutions. 13. Sovereign wealth funds. I. Arezki, Rabah. II. Gylfason, Thorvaldur, 1951-. III. Sy, Amadou N. R. IV. International Monetary Fund.

HC85.B49 2011

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this book are those of the authors and should not be reported as or attributed to the International Monetary Fund, its Executive Board, or the governments of any of its member countries.

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The global economy is going through dramatic changes, with major implications for the demand for natural resources. Over the coming years, emerging economies will increasingly drive global growth. Many countries will take steps to adapt to climate change. And there will be further technological advances in extractive industries. Such changes will clearly impact the demand for natural resources.

A perennial challenge for commodity exporters has been how to manage the impact of volatile commodity prices on macroeconomic and financial stability. Even though commodity prices have stabilized somewhat since the Great Recession, volatility is sure to return—and is already back in agricultural commodity markets. This underscores the importance of having the right macroeconomic policies to manage this volatility. Financial tools, including hedging strategies, clearly matter too.

Another challenge is how to increase competitiveness. Natural-resource-rich countries run a risk of contracting “Dutch disease”—the phenomenon of large commodity exports leading to an appreciation of the real exchange rate, which in turn slows productivity growth in other sectors of the economy. This weakens competitiveness and holds back economic diversification—leaving the economy overly dependent on the natural resource sector.

But perhaps the most fundamental challenge is how to ensure that natural resource wealth is used wisely and shared fairly across society. Natural-resource-rich countries have been blessed with tremendous natural wealth. And yet in many of them, unemployment is high—especially among the young—and millions remain in poverty. It seems only right that these countries’ natural riches should be used to tackle constraints on growth and development, to create the decent jobs needed to raise living standards.

Much greater investment in physical, human, and institutional capital is clearly needed to boost productivity and raise competitiveness. This should be supported by structural reforms that tackle constraints on entrepreneurship and that improve the business climate.

At the same time, spending should be at a measured pace. This will safeguard macroeconomic stability, which includes maintaining the real exchange rate at a fair level. It will also allow future generations to benefit from the revenues earned from exhaustible natural resources today.

Strong institutions will play a critical role in ensuring that well-designed policies are indeed effective. Strong fiscal institutions help prevent excess spending in times of plenty—thus leaving enough resources for times of want. And strong financial institutions help manage the impact of spikes in capital inflows on the broader economy. Sound management of foreign exchange reserves is a critical complement in this regard.

Unfortunately, strong institutions have been missing in many resource-rich economies. As a result, economic performance in many countries with abundant natural resources has been quite poor; and even where economies have grown, unemployment, inequality, and the resulting tensions have often undermined social progress. Partly as a result, the blessing of resource riches has too often turned into the curse of conflict.

A strong commitment to good governance lies at the heart of responsible management of natural resource wealth. Good governance helps ensure that commodity revenues can benefit all in society. This is why institutions with a high level of accountability are so important. The experiences of countries like Botswana, Chile, and Indonesia show the important role that strong, independent, and accountable institutions can play in resource-rich countries. I also firmly believe that a vigorous civil society is critical for achieving—and maintaining—a high standard of accountability.

Transparency is an important first step in ensuring accountability—and an issue that the IMF is helping to promote. To support our members’ efforts in this area, the IMF developed the Guide on Resource Revenue Transparency and the Code of Good Practices on Fiscal Transparency. The IMF also provides technical assistance and training to its members, drawing on its deep experience of working on these issues all over the world.

The IMF remains committed to working with all its members, resource-rich and resource-poor, to tackle the policy challenges of this new global economy. It is my hope that publications like this one—alongside, of course, our close bilateral relations with our members—will contribute to supporting a strong and stable global recovery, to the benefit of all nations of the world.

Christine Lagarde

Managing Director

International Monetary Fund


This book is the culmination of the efforts of many policymakers, academics, and World Bank and IMF staff. Their coming together during the high-level seminar organized by the Bank of Algeria and the IMF Institute in Algiers on November 4 to 5, 2010, has been instrumental in fostering the understanding of how countries can manage the challenges of natural resource wealth so as to reap the benefits while avoiding the pitfalls.

This book would not have been possible without the support and encouragement of Leslie Lipschitz, director of the IMF Institute and Mohammed Laksaci, Governor of the Bank of Algeria. We are grateful to Joanne Blake of the IMF’s External Relations Department for coordinating the production of the book. Last, but not least, we would like to thank a large number of colleagues at the IMF and staff at the Bank of Algeria for their support.

Rabah Arezki, Thorvaldur Gylfason, and Amadou Sy

Abbreviations and Acronyms


adjusted net national income


Consumer Price Index


foreign direct investment


Gulf Cooperation Council


gross national income


information technology


liquid natural gas


natural resource fund


Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development


Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries


purchasing power parity


product price targeting


research and development


real exchange rate


System of National Accounts


sovereign wealth fund


United Nations Conference on Trade and Development


United Nations Development Programme

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