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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Latin America and the Caribbean in 2016: Adjusting to a Harsher Reality

Event only

Alejandro Werner

By Alejandro Werner

(Versions in Español and Português)

It’s been a rough start to 2016, as seen by the recent bouts of financial volatility, stemming from uncertainties related to the slowdown in China, lower commodity prices, and divergent monetary policy in advanced economies.

The global recovery continues to struggle to gain its footing, with strains in some large emerging market economies weighing on growth prospects. For Latin America and the Caribbean, growth in 2016 is now expected to be negative for the second consecutive year—the first time since the debt crisis of 1982–83, which triggered the “lost decade” for the region (see table). (more…)

By | January 22nd, 2016|Economic outlook, growth, IMF|0 Comments

Trading Out of Trouble in Latin America

By Natalija Novta and Fabiano Rodrigues Bastos

(Versions in Español and Português)

Growth in Latin America and the Caribbean is suffering a double whammy—economic activity has slowed down sharply and the medium-term outlook continues to deteriorate. It is therefore not surprising that policymakers across the region are eagerly searching for ways to revitalize growth.

One answer may be more trade—both within the region and with the rest of the world. Our new study analyzes the export performance in developing and emerging market regions over the past two decades to assess the potential for future export growth in Latin America. We find evidence that most countries in the region “undertrade” compared to what standard models would predict. This has been an entrenched problem for almost a quarter of a century, partly as a result of the region’s geography and a legacy of protectionist policies.

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Northern Spring, Southern Chills: Outlook for Latin America and the Caribbean

Alejandro WernerBy Alejandro Werner

(Version in Español and Português)

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?

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(Yet) Another Year of Subpar Growth: Latin America and the Caribbean in 2015

Alejandro WernerBy Alejandro Werner

(version in Español and Português)

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.

Werner blog.chart 1 (more…)

A Downturn Without Layoffs? Reconciling Growth And Labor Markets In Latin America

Bertrand Gruss 2By Bertrand Gruss 

(version in Español and Português)

It looks as if labor markets in Latin America have not been following the economic news—literally! Economic activity has slowed markedly in the last three years, with some South American countries slipping into outright recession more recently. Yet, labor markets still appear remarkably strong, with unemployment rates, in particular, hovering at record-low levels in most countries (Figure 1). So, what is going on? Has the region discovered how to defy the law of gravity?

ENG.WHD REO Fall.Chart 1

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The Outlook for Latin America and the Caribbean in 2014

Alejandro WernerBy Alejandro Werner

(Version in EspañolPortuguês)

Looking to the year ahead, how do we see the global economic landscape, and what will this mean for our region? This question is especially on people’s minds today, given the risks of deflation in advanced economies and of sustained turbulence in emerging markets.

Despite these risks, we expect that the region will grow a little faster than last year—increasing from 2.6 percent in 2013 to 3 percent in 2014. Stronger global demand is one part of the story, but not the whole story; volatility is likely to be a significant feature of the landscape ahead. And regional growth rates will still be in low gear compared to historical trends, and downside risks to growth remain. So, let’s start with the global scene.

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Latin America and the Caribbean: Dealing with Another Food Price Shock

World food prices are on the rise again owing mainly to global weather-related shocks. This has led to concern that the rise could result in higher inflation and hurt the most vulnerable. The impact on domestic inflation in Latin America and the Caribbean of the latest food price shock is beginning to be felt, although the pass-through to core (or underlying) inflation has been relatively limited thus far.

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.

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