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A major policy shift is usually successful when there is a strong constituency pushing for reform.
Due to Soviet legacies, Azerbaijan’s private sector outside the oil industry has been weak and toothless against the wealthy elites who have high stakes in the oil sector.
The foreign assets of SOFAZ include fixed income, bonds, equities, gold, and real estate.
Then, new residential complexes (such as White City and Port Baku Residence), skyscrapers (such as Flame Towers), five-star hotels, and expo centers were to be built (see Figure 1).
Later, the emphasis would be placed more on capital-intensive projects such as techno-parks, real-estate development, and logistic/transportation facilities, such as a new seaport and a new rail link to connect Azerbaijan to Turkey.
Spending on a few, but capital-heavy, infrastructure projects had the advantage over human-capital intensive projects in that it avoided the dispersal of capital outside the core elite, allowed for the feeding (and appeasement) of competing patronage networks, and enabled a more controlled process of petrodollar recycling.
The unintended consequences, however, are rising youth unemployment and a “youth bulge” that might eventually burst because the closed political system lacks the safety valves necessary to release demographic pressures.