Lavan Mahadeva

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                    [post_content] => Kuwait’s domestic electricity and water sector has been in disarray for several years, struggling with fast-rising demand for several decades as a result of rapid industrialization, population growth, rising living standards as well as due to the artificially low utility prices set by the government. We use a model-based methodology to compare the current pricing scheme against an alternative where consumer prices are raised to market levels and consumers are on average compensated by cash transfers that do not distort their economic decisions. Our main finding is that a realignment of prices at or closer to the market price level confers a benefit on current and future generations of Kuwaitis, in terms of fiscal savings, that outweighs the impact of raising electricity and water consumer prices to market price levels. Specifically, in the market price scenario with consumer prices at about ten times current levels, there is a total fiscal cost of about one-third of the value of fuel input used in the power sector (or about 1.5 per cent of GDP), entirely due to the cash transfer. This, however, is just less than one-fifth of the fiscal cost of the current low-price regime, and in principle represents a massive saving. The net benefit of moving to market prices is 6.3 per cent of GDP. By implication, if it is judged that a cash transfer scheme, undifferentiated by usage, can help gain acceptance for the price reform, it is shown to be affordable. We also show that the shift to market pricing will be a more efficient route to achieving spare capacity in the electricity and water system.
                    [post_title] => Price Reform in Kuwait's Electricity and Water Sector - Assessing the Net Benefits in the Presence of Congestion
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                    [post_content] => Nearly all countries whose exports are highly concentrated in fuel products fix their nominal exchange rate in order to protect the livelihoods of vulnerable workers in other sectors from exchange rate changes that could be caused by variations in international fuel prices. In this paper, we assess the impact that fuel price-induced exchange rate variability has on the different sectors of fuel-exporting countries, taking Colombia as a case-study. We document the rich variety of sectoral responses to an oil-price induced appreciation in Colombia and assess different solutions to underperforming sectors.

Our analysis points to policies that improve the options available to workers in exposed sectors. We  also suggest that there may be an additional need for sectoral countercyclical macroprudential tools – those that can be used to reduce lending only to non-tradable sectors – in times of fuel price-induced exchange rate appreciation. Examples of these tools are higher loan-to-value ratios and risk weights on mortgages, on the commercial retail sector, and on personal loans, together with regulatory capital ratios, sectoral liquidity buffers, or taxes on housing sales.
                    [post_title] => The Sectoral Effects of Exchange Rate Fluctuations - A Case Study of Colombia
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                    [post_content] => The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change implies that countries should shoulder costs and burdens of climate change in accordance with differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, but it does not indicate how these fairness parameters are to be quantified. In this OIES Paper, Benito Müller and Lavan Mahadeva provide a novel and distinctive methodology (‘Oxford Approach’) regarding quantifying the (economic) capability of countries as a contribution to assessments of fair cost/burden distributions, an issue of central importance in the upcoming international climate change debate.
                    [post_title] => The Oxford Approach - Operationalizing the UNFCCC Principle of 'Respective Capabilities'
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                    [post_content] => The main purpose of this paper is to review the evolution of OPEC models and to link this evolution to some key events in the oil market. Our main conclusion is that OPEC’s pricing power varies over time. There are many instances in which OPEC can lose the power to limit oil price movements – either up or down. Such changes in pricing power are brought about by market conditions and can occur both in weak and tight market conditions. Because of OPEC’s varying conduct, there is no single model that fits its behaviour and hence analysts have been forced to choose from a wide range of models to explain certain episodes. The empirical literature has not been successful in distinguishing between the various competing models, as these models offer very similar predictions. This paper is forthcoming in the Annual Review of Resource Economics.
                    [post_title] => OPEC - What Difference has it Made?
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                    [post_content] => In the last decade, purely financial players with no interest in the physical commodity such as hedge funds, pension funds, insurance companies, and retail investors have become more prominent in oil futures and derivatives markets.  In parallel, there has been an explosion in the variety of instruments that permit speculation in oil. These movements in financial participation bear some rough relation to the oil price. Some have been led to conclude that greater financial participation has changed oil price behaviour. There have even been calls for policy intervention to limit financial participation in oil per se.

In this comment, we discuss recent research on whether underlying changes in the incentives and constraints of purely financial players could have interfered with the workings of the oil market. We find no support for the view that greater financialization has had an important effect on oil market variables and harmed final consumers. In contrast, shifts expectations of supply and demand can have important impacts on prices, spreads, welfare, and even on financial market participation.  Therefore, before oil financial market policies are contemplated, it is crucial in the first instance to identify the channels through which financialization can result in market failure.
                    [post_title] => Financialization in Oil Markets - lessons for policy
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                    [post_content] => The main objectives of this paper are to assess whether financialization can impact oil market behaviour over and above structural fundamental changes, and whether these changes affect final consumers' welfare.  While shifts arising in financial investors' preferences and wealth can explain the rise in participation of purely financial investors, they fail to explain key features such as the movements in the basis. Instead, anticipated changes in the physical layer of the oil market can better explain many of the features often attributed to financialization. We also find that greater financialization has no harmful effects on consumer welfare. Our paper shows that from a regulatory point of view, it is crucial in the first instance to identify the channels through which financialization can result in market failure and then design policies accordingly.
                    [post_title] => Assessing the Financialization Hypothesis
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                    [post_content] => When a country discovers large new natural resource energy reserves, its citizens are gifted with possibility of financing a great economic transformation. Yet, often, the state which manages the transformation fails to deliver a sufficient high and well timed contribution to the well being of current and future citizens. Is it a lack of depth in financial markets or political impatience to spend that best explains the failure of energy revenues to achieve its potential? I answer this question with a model where both resource revenues and returns to the public sector's financial and physical assets and its liabilities are uncertain. Calibrating for Colombia, I find that when policymakers discount at 20%, 18pp below the social rate, the welfare cost is equivalent to about a quarter of consumption forever, the net stock of assets is much smaller than it should be and discretionary expenditures are very sensitive to surprise resource revenues. If financial markets are sufficiently underdeveloped, we can generate welfare costs of the same magnitude. But shallow financial markets cannot also explain why there are insufficient net effective assets as seems to be the case in Colombia, nor can they explain a heightened sensitivity to revenues. As political impatience is thus the main culprit, a continued emphasis on fiscal policy arrangements that directly
address the temptation to spend too soon is warranted.
                    [post_title] => Optimal fiscal policy in the face of oil windfalls and other known unknowns
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                    [post_content] => A popular view is that the surge in the price of oil during 2003-08 cannot be explained by economic fundamentals, but was caused by the increased financialization of oil futures markets, which in turn allowed speculation to become a major determinant of the spot price of oil. This interpretation has been driving policy efforts to regulate oil futures markets. This survey reviews the evidence supporting this view. We identify six strands in the literature corresponding to different empirical methodologies and discuss to what extent each approach sheds light on the role of speculation. We find that the existing evidence is not supportive of an important role of speculation in driving the spot price of oil after 2003. However there is evidence that both oil futures price and spot prices were driven by the same economic fundamentals.
                    [post_title] => The Role of Speculation in Oil Markets: What Have We Learned So Far?
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            [post_content] => Kuwait’s domestic electricity and water sector has been in disarray for several years, struggling with fast-rising demand for several decades as a result of rapid industrialization, population growth, rising living standards as well as due to the artificially low utility prices set by the government. We use a model-based methodology to compare the current pricing scheme against an alternative where consumer prices are raised to market levels and consumers are on average compensated by cash transfers that do not distort their economic decisions. Our main finding is that a realignment of prices at or closer to the market price level confers a benefit on current and future generations of Kuwaitis, in terms of fiscal savings, that outweighs the impact of raising electricity and water consumer prices to market price levels. Specifically, in the market price scenario with consumer prices at about ten times current levels, there is a total fiscal cost of about one-third of the value of fuel input used in the power sector (or about 1.5 per cent of GDP), entirely due to the cash transfer. This, however, is just less than one-fifth of the fiscal cost of the current low-price regime, and in principle represents a massive saving. The net benefit of moving to market prices is 6.3 per cent of GDP. By implication, if it is judged that a cash transfer scheme, undifferentiated by usage, can help gain acceptance for the price reform, it is shown to be affordable. We also show that the shift to market pricing will be a more efficient route to achieving spare capacity in the electricity and water system.
            [post_title] => Price Reform in Kuwait's Electricity and Water Sector - Assessing the Net Benefits in the Presence of Congestion
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Latest Publications by Lavan Mahadeva

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    March 27th

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