Economic activity in Latin America and the Caribbean stagnated in 2019, continuing with the weak growth momentum of the previous five years and adding more urgency and new challenges to reignite growth. Indeed, real GDP per capita in the region has declined by 0.6 percent per year on average during 2014–2019—a sharp contrast from the commodity boom’s average increase of two percent per year during 2000–2013. […]
June 21, 2018
Latin America may be the most unequal region in the world, but it is the only region to significantly lower inequality over the past two decades, and the boom in commodity prices helped make it happen. […]
January 23, 2018
Tackling inequality is not only a moral imperative. It is critical for sustaining growth.
Global income inequality has declined in recent years, with the Gini index—a statistical measure of income distribution with a value of zero indicating perfect equality—dropping from 68 in 1988 to 62 in 2013, reflecting relatively strong growth in many emerging and developing economies, particularly in China and India. However, inequality has increased within many countries, including in many advanced economies. […]
September 21, 2017
Corruption continues to make headlines in Latin America. From a scheme to shelter assets leaked by documents in Panama, to the Petrobras and Odebrecht scandals that have spread beyond Brazil, to eight former Mexican state governors facing charges or being convicted, the region has seen its share of economic and political fallout from corruption. Latin Americans are showing increasing signs of discontent and demanding that their governments tackle corruption more aggressively.
Economic activity in Latin America and the Caribbean has been cooling down for several years, and the temperature in many places is still falling. Regional growth is now expected to dip below 1 percent in 2015—down from 1.3 percent in 2014. Apart from a short-lived recession during the global financial crisis, this would be the slowest rate of growth since 2002.
However, growth dynamics vary across the region, broadly along North-South lines. While spring may be in the air for Mexico, Central America, and parts of the Caribbean, the economic climate remains decidedly chilly in much of South America. What is behind these divergent prospects, and how can a sunnier outlook be restored to the entire region?
The plunge in world oil prices—from $105 to about $50 per barrel since mid-2014—has been a boon for oil-importing countries, while presenting challenges for oil exporters.
In general, oil importers will enjoy faster growth, lower inflation, and stronger external positions, and most will not encounter any significant fiscal pressures. Oil exporters will tend to face slower growth and weaker external current account balances and some will run into fiscal pressures, since many rely on direct oil-related revenues. One country that stands out is Venezuela, which had been experiencing severe economic imbalances before oil prices began to fall and now finds itself in an even more precarious position.
The turn of the year usually brings a fresh dose of optimism. Yet, worries dominate across much of Latin America and the Caribbean today, as 2015 marks yet another year of reduced growth expectations. Regional growth is projected at just 1¼ percent, about the same low rate as in 2014 and almost 1 percentage point below our previous forecast. Challenging external conditions are an important drag for many countries. Still, it’s not too late for some good New Year’s resolutions to address domestic weaknesses and improve growth prospects.
By Min Zhu
There is a group of fast-growing low-income countries that are attracting international investor interest—frontier economies. Understanding who they are, how they are different, and how they have moved themselves to the frontier matters for the global economy because they combine huge potential with big risks.
Get to know them
The first thing to note is that some of these countries already have moved to the lower-middle income group. While a working definition of frontier economies is subject to further discussion, broadly speaking, these countries have been deepening their financial markets, such as Bangladesh, Kenya, Nigeria, Mozambique, and Vietnam.