The political economy of natural resource wealth poses two interrelated challenges for American foreign policy, both involving governance issues in countries that are abundantly endowed with natural resources.
The potentially negative impact of natural resources on development is captured in the phrase "the resource curse". The implications are the greatest for the commodity producers themselves, ranging from complications for macroeconomic management to political authoritarianism and, in the extreme, the precipitation of violent civil conflict. For US policy, the resource curse presents challenges with respect to coping with state failure and associated transborder phenomena.
The issues extend to broader geopolitics. Resource abundance confers financial and political power on producers. China's emergence as a major importer and investor in extraction, willing to accommodate authoritarian producers, exacerbates the challenge, potentially undercutting international efforts to encourage greater transparency and improved management of natural resource wealth. This issue is of particular importance for US policy toward Africa.
Marcus Noland, senior fellow and director of studies, has been associated with the Institute since 1985. From 2009 through 2012, he served as the Institute's deputy director. His research addresses a wide range of topics at the interstice of economics, political science, and international relations. He has won a number of awards for his work including the Ohira Memorial Award for his book Avoiding the Apocalypse: The Future of the Two Koreas.
Cullen S. Hendrix, non-resident senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, is assistant professor of government at the College of William and Mary. His areas of research include the economic and security implications of climate change, food security, and civil conflict. He is coauthor of Science and the International Politics of Climate Change (2010) .
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