Natural resource-richness is basically a blessing, as stocks of natural wealth are among the factors of production which help determine the output per worker of a country. But it may become a curse, depending on the quality of governance and on the policies adopted to cope with macroeconomic challenges that accompany it.
The middle-income trap may well characterize the experience of Brazil and most of Latin America since the 1980s. Conversely, South Korea maintained its pace of evolution, reaching a high-income status.
Three areas threaten another economic and social "lost decade" for the region.
We compare rates of economic growth, poverty reduction, governance, and sources of productivity growth in resource-rich and resource-poor countries. We contrast the landscapes during the commodity boom with the current one during the pandemic crisis.
Some analysts have started to speak of the possibility of a new commodity price ‘super-cycle’ after the downturn since 2011. Although it is always possible to find moments of joint fluctuation, in which commodities remain for a long time above or below their long-term trends, differences among them matter. Copper is King! It is in metals, especially copper, lithium, and rare earth ones, that a strong bullish cycle is most evident.
The “middle-income trap” has become a broad designation trying to capture the many cases of developing countries that succeeded in evolving from low- to middle-levels of per capita income, but then appeared to stall, losing momentum along the route toward the higher income levels of advanced economies. We need to approach middle-income countries as being in a complex transition phase between accumulation and innovation-based economies. Individual middle-income country experiences of falling into a “trap” may be approached as cases of lack of or failing performance in footing the bill in terms of appropriate policies and institutions.
The latest super-cycle of commodity prices, starting in the mid-90s, reaching a peak by the time of the global financial crisis, and getting to the bottom by 2015, can be seen as associated to the developments of globalization that we have already dealt with in this series. More recently, some analysts have spoken that we might be on the verge of a new cycle, super-cycle or not.