Timber Booms and Institutional Breakdown in Southeast Asia

Synopsis

In this book, Michael L. Ross explores the breakdown of the institutions that govern natural resource exports in developing states. Using case studies of timber booms in Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines, he shows that these institutions often break down when states receive positive trade shocks--unanticipated windfalls. Drawing on the theory of rent-seeking, he suggests that these institutions succumb to a problem he calls "rent-seizing"--the predatory behavior of politicians who seek to supply rent to others, and who purposefully dismantle institutions that restrain them.