Book

Power grab (2020)

political survival through extractive resource nationalization

in: Business and public policy

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Abstract

For rulers whose territories are blessed with extractive resources - such as petroleum, metals, and minerals that will power the clean energy transition - converting natural wealth into fiscal wealth is key. Squandering the opportunity to secure these revenues will guarantee short tenures, while capitalizing on windfalls and managing the resulting wealth will fortify the foundations of enduring rule. This book argues that leaders nationalize extractive resources to extend the duration of their power. By taking control of the means of production and establishing state-owned enterprises, leaders capture revenues that might otherwise flow to private firms, and use this increased capital to secure political support. Using a combination of case studies and cross-national statistical analysis with novel techniques, Mahdavi sketches the contours of a crucial political gamble: nationalize and reap immediate gains while risking future prosperity, or maintain private operations, thereby passing on revenue windfalls but securing long-term fiscal streams.