Petro Rents, Political Institutions, and Hidden Wealth: Evidence from Bank Deposits in Tax Havens
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Do political institutions limit rent-seeking by politicians? To address this question, we study the transformation of petroleum rents into hidden wealth using unique data on bank deposits in tax havens. We find that petroleum rents are associated with increases in hidden wealth, but only when political institutions are very weak. We also discern an interesting interaction with political risk: events such as elections and domestic conflict are preceded by increases in hidden wealth when political institutions are weak, which is consistent with a view of autocratic rulers as forward-looking rent-seekers whose behavior is constrained by political checks and balances.