Clearly, global uncertainties have weighed on Latin America, but most economies are nevertheless growing close to potential and operating near full capacity, as shown by record low unemployment in many economies. Demand and credit growth have moderated, but continue to expand briskly, in some countries supported by public financial institutions. Overall, Latin America stands out as a relatively bright spot in a gloomy world scene.
"Derailment of the global recovery, which was a clear and distinct danger a few months ago, has been avoided for now thanks to strong policy measures--in particular those of the European Central Bank--and strengthened governance in the euro area, and reforms and adjustment in countries such as Italy, Spain, and Greece," Lagarde said. "High frequency indicators also now suggest an uptick in activity, mostly in the United States."
The world recovery, which was weak in the first place, is in danger of stalling. The epicenter of the danger is Europe, but the rest of the world is increasingly affected.
As 2011 draws to a close, the recovery in many advanced economies is at a standstill, with some investors even exploring the implications of a potential breakup of the euro zone, and the real possibility that conditions may be worse than we saw in 2008. Olivier Blanchard, the IMF's Chief Economist, draws four main lessons in his year in review.
A clear lesson is that even rapid economic growth cannot be maintained unless it is inclusive, creates jobs for the growing labor force, and is accompanied by social policies for the most vulnerable. F from the Arab Spring is that economic reforms to be sustainable, their gains must be broadly shared, not just captured by a privileged few. Widespread corruption is not just an unacceptable affront to the dignity of citizens, it also deprives them of the economic benefits. And the absence of transparent and fair rules of the game will inevitably undermine inclusive growth.
The most likely scenario for the U.K. economy is that it will gradually recover, although it will face continued headwinds from a soft housing market, household and financial sector deleveraging, and ongoing consolidation of the budget.
Three ways Latin America can reduce its vulnerability to economic fluctuations and sudden stops.
The three Baltic states—Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania—were among the first victims of the global financial crisis. Although adjustment is still far from complete, a recovery is now underway. It is still too early to judge the success of the Baltic strategy, but it's fair to say that the most dire predictions have not come true.
John Lipsky, First Deputy Managing Director of the IMF, looks at the year ahead and says 2011 represents a pivotal time for global economic recovery and for international policy cooperation—as well as for the role of the Fund in addressing these two principal challenges.
The iMF Direct Blog has picked our list of must read posts covering the highs and lows of global finance and government budgets and spending.