Optimal investment in an oil-based economy.

O.O Zarmouh, Tennessee State University


In a developing oil-based economy like Libya the availability of finance is largely affected by the availability of oil revenues which are subjected to disturbances and shocks. Therefore, the decision to save and invest a certain ratio of the country's aggregate output is, to large extent, determined (and affected) by the shocks in the oil markets rather than the requirements of economic development. In this study an attempt is made to determine the optimal rate of saving and investment, both defined as a ratio of the aggregate output, according to the requirements of economic development. For this purpose, a neo-classical Ramsey-type model for Libya is constructed and applied to obtain theoretically and empirically the optimal saving and investment rate during the period (1965-1992). The results reveal that Libya was investing over the optimal level during the oil boom of 1970s and less than the optimal level during the oil crisis of 1980s. In addition, an econometric investigation of the determinants of actual investment by sector (agriculture, non-oil industry, and services) is carried out in order to shed lights on how possible it is for Libya to adjust actual investment towards its optimal level. It is found that, as expected, the most important factors which can be used in this respect are the oil revenues or, generally, the availability of finance. In addition, the study reveals that investment in agriculture is associated, during the period of study, with a very low marginal productivity of capital whereas marginal productivity was higher in both non-oil industry and services. Finally, the study investigates also the future potential saving and investment rates and concludes that the economy, which has already reached its steady state, can be pushed out towards further growth if the economy can be able to increase the level of per worker human capital, proxied by the secondary school enrolment as a percentage of population.

Subject Area

Agricultural economics

Recommended Citation

O.O Zarmouh, "Optimal investment in an oil-based economy." (1998). ETD Collection for Tennessee State University. Paper AAIU117438.