Managing resource revenues is a critical policy issue for small open resource-rich
countries. This paper uses an open economy dynamic stochastic general equilibrium
model to analyze the transmission of resource price shocks and a shock to resource
production in the Trinidad and Tobago economy. It also applies alternative fiscal rules to
determine the optimal allocation of resource windfalls between spending today and saving
in a sovereign wealth fund. The results show that spending all the resource windfall on
consumption and investment creates more volatility and amplifies Dutch disease effects,
when compared to the case where all the excess revenues are saved. Also, neither a policy
of full spending nor full saving of the surplus revenue inflows is optimal if the
government is concerned about both household welfare and fiscal stability. In order to
minimize deviations from both objectives, the optimal fiscal response suggests that a
larger fraction of the resource windfalls should be saved.
International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.
This paper reviews the historical background of fuel subsidies in Trinidad and Tobago, discusses their fiscal impact and the inflationary impact of subsidy reform, summarizes the regressive distribution of subsidy benefits, focuses on the negative externalities caused by fuel subsidies and the environmental and traffic benefits of phasing them out, and discusses key factors contributing to successful reforms. Fuel subsidies in Trinidad and Tobago, established in 1974, increased dramatically owing to rising global crude oil price in the past few years and led to a growing debate on the costs and benefits of subsidy reform. Fuel subsidies have significantly contributed to the country’s procyclical fiscal stance.
Mr. Sebastian Acevedo Mejia, Aliona Cebotari, Kevin Greenidge, and Geoffrey N. Keim
The paper investigates whether the macroeconomic effects of external devaluations have
systematically different effects in small states, which are typically more open and less diversified
than larger peers. Through several analytical approaches -- DSGE model, event study, and
regression analysis -- it finds that the effects of devaluation on growth and external balances are
not significantly different between small and large states, with both groups equally likely to
experience expansionary or contractionary outcomes. However, the transmission channels are
different: devaluations in small states are more likely to affect demand through expenditure
compression, rather than expenditure-switching channels. In particular, consumption tends to fall
more sharply in small states due to adverse income effects, thereby reducing import demand.
Policy conclusions point to the importance of social safety nets, complementary wage and antiinflation
policies, investment-boosting reforms, and attention to potential adverse balance sheet
effects to ensure positive outcomes.
Mr. Christian H Ebeke and Mr. Constant A Lonkeng Ngouana
This paper shows that high energy subsidies and low public social spending can emerge as an
equilibrium outcome of a political game between the elite and the middle-class when the provision
of public goods is subject to bottlenecks, reflecting weak domestic institutions. We test this and
other predictions of our model using a large cross-section of emerging markets and low-income
countries. The main empirical challenge is that subsidies and social spending could be jointly
determined (e.g., at the time of the budget), leading to a simultaneity bias in OLS estimates. To
address this concern, we adopt an identification strategy whereby subsidies in a given country are
instrumented by the level of subsidies in neighboring countries. Our Instrumental Variable (IV)
estimations suggest that public expenditures in education and health were on average lower by
0.6 percentage point of GDP in countries where energy subsidies were 1 percentage point of GDP
higher. Moreover, we find that the crowding-out was stronger in the presence of weak domestic
institutions, narrow fiscal space, and among the net oil importers.
Domestic private saving rates have been on a declining trend in many Emerging Markets (EMs), raising questions about countries’ ability to generate sufficient domestic resources to finance investment. This paper examines how countries have managed to achieve protracted increases in the private saving rate. The results show that episodes of sustained accelerations of private savings are mostly the result of very strong macroeconomic performance. Econometric investigations using matching estimators do not reject the result that stronger economic growth mostly precedes episodes of saving accelerations.
Mr. Eduardo Borensztein, Mr. Damiano Sandri, and Mr. Olivier D Jeanne
This paper uses a dynamic optimization model to estimate the welfare gains of hedging against commodity price risk for commodity-exporting countries. The introduction of hedging instruments such as futures and options enhances domestic welfare through two channels. First, by reducing export income volatility and allowing for a smoother consumption path. Second, by reducing the country's need to hold foreign assets as precautionary savings (or by improving the country's ability to borrow against future export income). Under plausibly calibrated parameters, the second channel may lead to much larger welfare gains, amounting to several percentage points of annual consumption.
Trinidad and Tobago is experiencing an energy boom stronger than the ones in 1970s and 1980s. The main fiscal policy challenge is to ensure that the increased revenues from the ultimately exhaustible resources are used in a way that protects the competitiveness of the nonenergy sector, builds assets to ensure intergenerational equity, and provides a cushion for stabilization. This paper derives estimates of a sustainable level of primary fiscal balance using Friedman's permanent income hypothesis. These estimates can be used as a guide for the formulation of medium- and long-term fiscal policy frameworks.
Mr. A. Salehizadeh, Mr. Peter Berezin, and Mr. Elcior Santana
It is typically assumed that countries in the Caribbean suffer from a lack of output and export diversification. Contrary to this popular perception, we find no evidence that output variability is higher in Caribbean countries than in larger, more diversified, developing economies. In addition, we find no evidence that export earnings are more volatile in the Caribbean economies than elsewhere. In fact, export earnings are quite stable in the Caribbean, reflecting the fact the region is rather unique in that most of its export earnings are generated from service exports, which tend to be considerably less volatile than goods exports.
This paper derives a structural import demand equation and estimates it for a large number of countries, using recent time series techniques that address the problem of nonstationarity. Because the statistical properties of the different estimators have been derived only asymptotically, econometric theory does not offer any guidance when it comes to comparing different estimators in small samples. Consequently, the paper derives the small-sample properties of both the ordinary-least-squares (OLS) and the fully-modified (FM) estimators using Monte Carlo methods. It is shown that FM dominates OLS for both the short- and long-run elasticities.
This Selected Issues paper on Trinidad and Tobago highlights that real GDP growth accelerated slightly from 2.4 percent in 1995 to 3.2 percent in 1996. In both years, growth was mainly driven by a good performance of the non-oil sector, which expanded by 3 percent and 3.6 percent, respectively. Construction, distribution, and tourism grew at an especially rapid pace. Manufacturing showed an uneven performance, growing in 1995, but stagnating in 1996, which was owing to the differential effects of trade liberalization on its various subsectors.