Navigating Through Global Cross Currents: Latest Outlook for Latin America and the Caribbean

Event onlyBy Alejandro Werner

Versions in Português (Portuguese), and Español (Spanish)

The global landscape has changed since our last update in October 2016. These changes have been mainly shaped by:

  • An anticipated shift in the U.S. policy mix, higher growth and inflation, and a stronger dollar. In the United States—while potential policy changes remain uncertain—fiscal policy is likely to become expansionary, while monetary policy is expected to tighten faster than previously expected because of stronger demand and inflation pressures. As a result, growth is projected to rise to 2.3 percent in 2017 and 2.5 percent in 2018—a cumulative increase in GDP of ½ percentage point relative to the October forecast. The expected change in the policy mix and growth has led to an increase in global long-term interest rates, a stronger dollar in real effective terms, and a moderation of capital flows to Latin America.
  • Improved outlook for other advanced economies and China for 2017–18, reflecting somewhat stronger activity in the second half of 2016 as well as projected policy stimulus.
  • Some recovery in commodity prices, especially metal and oil prices, on the back of strong infrastructure and real estate investment in China, expectations of fiscal easing in the United States, and agreement among major petroleum producers to cut supply.

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By | January 23rd, 2017|Economic outlook, growth, IMF, International Monetary Fund, structural reforms|

Commodity Blues: Corporate Investment in Latin America

Nicolas MagudBy Nicolás Magud

(Versions in Español and Português)

Private investment has been decelerating throughout emerging markets since mid-2011, and Latin America has been no exception (see Chart 1). This trend has raised concerns not only because weaker investment has played an important role in the broader regional slowdown, but also because Latin America’s investment rates were lower than in most other regions even before the slowdown began.

Slide1

This blog looks at the drivers of corporate investment and highlights the extent to which falling commodity export prices have contributed to lower capital spending. Given the poor outlook for commodity prices and what our analysis suggests, this does not bode well for countries in the region going forward unless they can tackle some of the long-standing obstacles to increase investment.

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Reducing Risks in Asia with Macroprudential Policies

Edda ZoliBy Edda Zoli

(Version in 中文, and 日本語)

Booming real estate markets, rapid credit growth and—at least before the Fed’s tapering announcement last year—sustained capital inflows have raised financial stability challenges across many parts of Asia. To address them, policymakers have increasingly made use of macroprudential policies that address the stability of the financial system as a whole rather than that of individual institutions. In some cases they have also resorted to capital flow management measures to counter large capital inflows.

As new analysis in the IMF Asia and Pacific Department’s latest Regional Economic Outlook finds, macroprudential policies, especially measures related to the housing market, have helped mitigate the buildup of financial risks in Asia. In the event of sharp decreases in credit and asset prices going forward, however, it may become useful to ease certain of these measures to avoid excessive deleveraging.

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Africa’s Success: More Than A Resource Story

Antoinette SayehBy Antoinette M. Sayeh

When meeting with people outside Africa, I’m often asked whether Africa’s growth takeoff since the mid-1990s has been simply a “commodity story”—a ride fueled by windfall gains from high commodity prices. But finance ministers and other policymakers in the region, and I was one of them, know that the story is richer than that.

In this spirit, in our latest Regional Economic Outlook: Sub-Saharan Africa a team of economists from the IMF’s African Department show that Africa’s continued success is more than a commodity story.  In fact, quite a few economies in the region have become high performers without basing their success on natural resources—thanks in no small part to sound policymaking.

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Africa: Second Fastest-Growing Region in the World

Antoinette SayehBy Antoinette M. Sayeh 

Sub-Saharan Africa is the second fastest-growing region of the world today, trailing only developing Asia.  This is remarkable compared to the current complicated state of the global economy, with Europe still struggling and the United States slowly on the mend.

In 2012, Sub-Saharan Africa maintained solid growth, with output growth at 5 percent on average. The factors that have supported the region through the Great Recession—strong investment, favorable commodity prices, and generally prudent macroeconomic management—continued to be at play.

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Latin America: Riding the Global Financial Waves

Simulations show that despite increasing financial integration, output costs associated with global financial shocks in Latin America have declined in the past 15 years. Of course, the progress made so far does not make the region immune, but has helped it to ride more safely through the recent global financial waves. As we’ve pointed out previously, the region should take precautions in case of a bigger global downturn. But so far it can take credit for its hard work on the policy front.

Regional Spillovers in South America: How “Systemic” is Brazil?

We quantify the spillovers from Brazil to other countries in South America. The results confirm that Brazil has a significant influence on Southern Cone countries, particularly on Mercosur partners (Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay), but not on the Andean economies. For the Southern Cone countries, spillovers from Brazil can take two forms: the transmission of shocks originating in Brazil and the amplification (through Brazil) of global shocks. These two factors explain an important share of the fluctuations in economy activity in the Southern Cone countries.

Confessions of a Dismal Scientist—Africa’s Resilience

Like many economists, I tend to fear the worst. I have witnessed phenomenal changes for the better in sub-Saharan Africa over the past 20 odd years. Part of me still worries that this trajectory will not endure. But, the more I see of the region’s economic performance and outlook, the more I’m changing my tune. Good macroeconomic policies in many more countries the years before the crisis put them in good stead to weather the crisis relatively well. As we report in our latest Regional Economic Outlook, output in sub-Saharan Africa looks set to expand by around 5½ this year and 6 percent in 2012. My latest worry is the recent sharp increase in food and fuel prices on world markets. To help minimize the dislocation that this shock may entail, countries should consider a two-pronged policy response.

Emerging Europe—Lessons from the Boom-Bust Cycle

Almost unnoticed amidst the difficulties in western Europe, the other half of the continent has begun to recover from the deepest slump in its post-transition period. In our fall 2010 Regional Economic Outlook, the emerging economies in central and eastern Europe are projected to grow by 3¾ percent this year and next—a relief after the 6 percent decline in 2009. But the boom years before the crisis had left much of the region addicted to foreign-financed credit growth, making it very vulnerable to a disruption in capital inflows. So, as the region emerges from the crisis, the big question is how do we avoid a repeat?

Continuing the Momentum—Asia’s Updated Economic Outlook

Asia’s leadership of the global recovery is continuing unabated. The IMF now expects GDP in Asia to grow by about 7¾ percent in 2010 (up about ½ a percentage point from what was envisaged in April), before easing to about 6¾ percent in 2011. And, even though the downside risks to growth have intensified, the region is well equipped to handle them.

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