Friday, April 25, 2014

Random Thoughts on Ecuador's Oil Boom

Commodity-driven economies, history tells us, can be counted on to go through boom and bust cycles. The politicians who are lucky enough to ride the boom are, not surprisingly, very popular. The bust, of course, is less fun.

Ecuador had two such cycles in the twentieth century -- the cacao boom in the early 1900s, and the banana boom in the middle of the century. In both cases, the bust brought on periods of instability (there were military coups in the twenties and seventies).

Currently, the country is enjoying the oil boom, but there are signs that it may be nearing an end. Will that mean a bust sometime soon, and what consequences might a bust have? We'll just have to see, but Ecuador should prepare for problems if oil prices drop, and I doubt if Rafael Correa's favorability ratings will stay where they are.

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