The repercussions of the crisis on the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean

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2 The repercussions of the crisis on the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean Second Meeting of Ministers of Finance of the Americas and the Caribbean Viña del Mar (Chile), 3 July 29 1

3 Alicia Bárcena Executive Secretary Laura López Secretary of the Commission Osvaldo Kacef Director of the Economic Development Division Susana Malchik Officer-in-Charge Documents and Publications Division This document was prepared by the Economic Development Division with support from other divisions of the Commission, ECLAC subregional headquarters in Mexico and Trinidad and Tobago, and the ECLAC offices in Bogota, Brasilia, Buenos Aires, Montevideo and Washington, D.C. LC/L July 29 United Nations Printed in Santiago, Chile

4 Second Meeting of Ministers of Finance of the Americas and the Caribbean 1. The world is facing the most severe international crisis in recent economic history In depth and scope, the crisis is comparable only to the crisis of the 193s. Figure 1 United States of America: monthly variation in industrial output, recent economic downturns (At t=, the month prior to the beginning of the decline, the indicator is set at 1) Following months Current December 27-April 28 Great Depression July 1929-July 1932 Source: Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), on the basis of figures from the International Monetary Fund. 3

5 The repercussions of the crisis on the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean 2. Despite the bleak outlook, some features of the current situation allow for cautious optimism Interbank market rates have fallen. Figure 2 Interbank market rates, (TED spread) September 28 The United States Government announces its intervention in the country s two largest mortgage companies, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Start of the subprime mortgage crisis in the United States 15 September 28 Lehman Brothers collapse is announced January 27 March 27 May 27 July 27 September 27 November 27 January 28 March 28 May 28 July 28 September 28 November 28 January 29 March 29 May 29 Source: Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), on the basis of figures from Bloomberg. Stock markets are bouncing back. Figure 3 Industrialized countries: stock market indices January 27 March 27 May 27 July 27 September 27 November 27 January 28 March 28 May 28 July 28 September 28 November 28 January 29 March 29 May 29 Dow Jones Nikkei 225 Dow Jones STOXX 5 (left axis) (left axis) (right axis) Source: Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), on the basis of figures from Bloomberg. 4

6 Second Meeting of Ministers of Finance of the Americas and the Caribbean Figure 4 Emerging economies: stock market indices January 27 March 27 May 27 July 27 September 27 November 27 January 28 March 28 May 28 July 28 September 28 November 28 January 29 March 29 May 29 Emerging markets of Latin America (left axis) Emerging markets of Europe (right axis) Emerging markets of Asia (right axis) Source: Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), on the basis of figures from Bloomberg. Commodity prices are recovering. Figure 5 Commodity price index, monthly averages (Index 2=1) January 2 April 2 July 2 October 2 January 21 April 21 July 21 October 21 January 22 April 22 July 22 October 22 January 23 April 23 July 23 October 23 January 24 April 24 July 24 October 24 January 25 April 25 July 25 October 25 January 26 April 26 July 26 October 26 January 27 April 27 July 27 October 27 January 28 April 28 July 28 October 28 January 29 April 29 July 29 Food Minerals and metals Petroleum Source: Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), on the basis of figures from Bloomberg and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). 5

7 The repercussions of the crisis on the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean Pressure on the currency markets has eased. Figure 6 Selected countries: nominal exchange rate (January 27=1) /1/28 2/1/28 3/1/28 4/1/28 5/1/28 6/1/28 7/1/28 8/1/28 9/1/28 1/1/28 11/1/28 12/1/28 1/1/29 2/1/29 3/1/29 4/1/29 5/1/29 Brazil Chile Colombia Mexico Peru Source: Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), on the basis of official figures. 3. Recovery will be slow and gradual, however, given that the negative impact on wealth persists (because property prices have still not recovered from their slump), and it will take some time for the financial systems and credit flows to return to normal 6

8 Second Meeting of Ministers of Finance of the Americas and the Caribbean 4. For Latin America and the Caribbean the most notable aspect of this crisis is that it differs in both origin and impact from the other crises that the region has been through in the last 3 years The current crisis originated in the developed countries, and the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean are in a stronger position to withstand it thanks to major achievements on the macroeconomic policy front. Debt levels have been reduced, better loan conditions have been negotiated, and international reserves have been built up. Therefore, unlike on other occasions, in most of the region s countries, the financial sector was neither the first to be hit nor the most affected by the crisis. Figure 7 Latin America (18 countries): international reserves, 27 and 28 (Percentages of GDP) Dominican Republic Ecuador Mexico Colombia Venezuela (Bol. Rep. of) Panama El Salvador Guatemala Latin America (18) Chile Costa Rica Brazil Argentina Nicaragua Honduras Paraguay Uruguay Peru Bolivia (Plur. State of) Source: Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), on the basis of offical figures. Figure 8 Latin America (12 countries): public external debt, 23 and 28 (Percentages of GDP) Uruguay El Salvador Argentina Ecuador Honduras Peru Bolivia (Plur. State of) Colombia Venezuela (Bol. Rep. of) Latin America (12 countries) Chile Mexico Brazil Source: Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), on the basis of official figures. 7

9 The repercussions of the crisis on the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean Even when the crisis was at it worst (September- October 28), the increase in country risk premiums was lower than during other crises. These have since trended sharply downwards, similarly to those of the emerging economies of Asia and much more than those of the emerging economies of Europe. Figure 9 Emerging market bond index: EMBI+ and EMBI+ Latin America (Basis points) Asian crisis Argentine debt crisis Level of the differentials before the Asian crisis March 1996 June 1996 September 1996 December 1996 March 1997 June 1997 September 1997 December 1997 March 1998 June 1998 September 1998 December 1998 March 1999 June 1999 September 1999 December 1999 March 2 June 2 September 2 December 2 March 21 June 21 September 21 December 21 March 22 June 22 September 22 December 22 March 23 June 23 September 23 December 23 March 24 June 24 September 24 December 24 March 25 June 25 September 25 December 25 March 26 June 26 September 26 December 26 March 27 June 27 September 27 December 27 March 28 June 28 September 28 December 28 March 29 EMBI+ Total EMBI+ Latin America Source: Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), on the basis of figures from JP Morgan. The external exposure of the region s financial systems is relatively low, and maintaining domestic credit supply is not, therefore, a major challenge, especially in comparison with other emerging regions, such as Asia and Eastern Europe. Figure 1 Net external position of the financial system, December 28 (Percentages of GDP) Developing Europe a Chile Developing Asia and Pacific b Peru Brazil Guatemala Developed countries Costa Rica El Salvador Latin America and the Caribbean (18) Colombia Mexico Argentina Nicaragua Paraguay Haiti Dominican Republic Ecuador Developing Africa and the Middle East Honduras Venezuela (Bol. Rep. of) Bolivia (Plur. State of) Uruguay Source: Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), on the basis of official figures. a Does not include the Russian Federation. b Does not include China. 8

10 Second Meeting of Ministers of Finance of the Americas and the Caribbean 5. Presently, the region s economies are, in several ways, more open and more integrated with the rest of the world, and the impact of external events is passed on increasingly quickly through the real sector Exports have slowed considerably. In the first quarter of 29, year-on-year declines of 1%-15% were seen in Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Mexico, and of 5%-1% in Colombia and Peru. Some countries, especially Mexico and the countries of the Caribbean and Central America, will feel the impact of falling tourism revenues, which in many cases have been further eroded by the outbreak of the A(H1N1) virus. The global recession and the drop in world trade are having a negative effect on commodity prices, which have plummeted from the highs reached in 28. The recent reversal of this downward trend and the gradual recovery of prices for some items have not offset the downturn recorded between the end of 28 and the beginning of 29. In 29, exports for the region as a whole are expected to shrink by approximately 11% and by more in the hydrocarbon and metal sectors. Figure 11 Latin America (6 countries): real growth of exports, by quarter, (Percentage variation on previous year) I II III IV I II III IV I Argentina Brazil Chile Mexico Peru Colombia Source: Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), on the basis of official figures. Figure 12 Latin America (19 countries): estimated year-on-year variation in terms of trade, 29 (Percentages) Latin America (19) South America (1) MERCOSUR (4) Chile and Peru Bolivia (Plur. State of), Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela (Bol. Rep. of) Central America (8) Mexico Source: Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC). 9

11 The repercussions of the crisis on the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean The drop in commodity prices is also having a negative impact on fiscal income in the countries that are largely dependent on primary-product exports, such as Argentina, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Chile, Colombia and Ecuador, and could limit their ability to mitigate the effects of the crisis. Public revenue in these five countries is projected to shrink by approximately 4 percentage points of GDP. Figure 13 Latin America (7 countries): tax income without social security, by quarter, (Percentage variation in real terms on the same period the previous year) I II III IV I Argentina Brazil Chile Colombia Mexico a Peru Uruguay Source: Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), on the basis of official figures. a Does not include income from the following taxes: single-rate business taxes, taxes on cash savings, special production and service taxes. Remittances have fallen 5%-1% in year-on-year terms. This will have a negative impact on consumption and the social situation will worsen because the recipients of remittances tend to belong to the low-income (but not the poorest) segments of the population. Figure 14 Latin America and the Caribbean: growth in remittances from emigrants, by quarter, (Percentage variation on the same period the previous year) I II III IV I II III IV I Guatemala Jamaica El Salvador Dominican Republic Mexico Ecuador Nicaragua Colombia Source: Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), on the basis of official figures. 1

12 Second Meeting of Ministers of Finance of the Americas and the Caribbean The decline in foreign direct investment (FDI) will dampen demand. This effect has been particularly apparent in the countries of the Caribbean and Central America where FDI flows represent a high proportion of GDP, as well as in some South American economies, such as Chile, Colombia and Peru. Figure 15 Latin America and the Caribbean: foreign direct investment inflows, (Billions of dollars) South America Mexico and the Caribbean Basin Total Source: Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC). The significant lowering of expectations has meanwhile generated a contraction of both private consumption and investment. Figure 16 Latin America: estimated year-on-year variation in aggregate demand, (Constant 2 dollars) I II III IV I Private consumption Gross fixed capital formation Goods and services imports General government consumption Goods and services exports GDP Source: Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), on the basis of official figures. 11

13 The repercussions of the crisis on the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean 6. After posting an accumulated growth of almost 23% in 23-28, regional GDP and per capita GDP growth are expected to slow down sharply in 29 The worsening of the international crisis in the last quarter of 28 has had a devastating impact on the region, forcing it to revise downwards its growth estimates for that year. Hence, the point of departure for the estimates for 29 is much lower as well. In addition to the impact of events on the external markets, rising uncertainty at the regional and global level is lowering expectations in the private sector which is having a negative effect on investment and consumption. Figure 17 Latin America and the Caribbean: GDP and per capita GDP, growth and trends, 2-29 (Variation of GDP as a percentage, per capita GDP index 2=1) GDP growth Accumulated growth in per capita GDP % a 5 Per capita GDP index (2=1) 4 GDP growth Per capita GDP index (2=1) Source: Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), on the basis of official figures. a The figures for 29 are preliminary estimates. 12

14 Second Meeting of Ministers of Finance of the Americas and the Caribbean 7. The crisis is having multiple negative effects on the labour market and beginning to reverse the gains made in previous years There has been a steep decline in formal job creation since the second semester of 28 and into 29. This threatens to undermine one of the region s previous achievements: the increase in quality jobs. The employment rate is falling and the unemployment rate is rising in many countries, most notably in Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Mexico, where the urban unemployment rate rose by more than one percentage point between the first quarter of 28 and the first quarter of 29. Between 24 and 28, the regional unemployment rate fell from 11% to 7.4%. In 29, it will probably rise by over one percentage point, which will mean about 3 million more people joining the ranks of the unemployed. Figure 18 Latin America (9 countries): employment and unemployment rate, first quarter 26-first quarter 29 (Percentages) Employment rate Quarter I Quarter II 54.5 Quarter III Quarter IV Quarter I Employment rate Quarter II Quarter III Quarter IV Quarter I Unemployment rate Source: Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), on the basis of official figures. Quarter II Quarter III Quarter IV Quarter I Unemployment rate 13

15 The repercussions of the crisis on the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean 8. The region is better prepared to face this crisis, but there is little space for implementing countercyclical macroeconomic policies Financial problems are not likely this year, but could arise in the future if the markets take a long time to return to normal. Figure 19 Estimates of basic balance, foreign direct investment and external debt obligations for 29 (Percentages) Argentina Brazil Chile Colombia Costa Rica Dominican Republic Ecuador El Salvador Guatemala Mexico Peru Uruguay Venezuela (Bol. Rep. of) Since the onset of the crisis, macroeconomic indicators have steadily worsened. The region s countries went from mostly having twin surpluses (on their public accounts and their external accounts) to the current situation in which, on average, they are estimated to post deficits in both their public and their external accounts equivalent to slightly over 2% of GDP. The situation will vary considerably from country to country, with some, especially those of Central America, recording extremely large domestic and external deficits. Short-term debt 29 a International reserves as at December 28 Basic balance 29 b Source: Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), on the basis of figures from the Bank for International Settlements and the International Monetary Fund. a Preliminary estimate, includes short- and medium-term debt amortizations. b Preliminary estimate. Positive values indicate a deficit on the basic balance. Figure 2 Latin America and the Caribbean (19 countries): variations in current account and fiscal balance, 2-29 (Percentages of GDP) Current account balance a 24 Twin deficits Twin surpluses Fiscal balance Source: Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), on the basis of official figures. a Data for 29 are preliminary estimates

16 Second Meeting of Ministers of Finance of the Americas and the Caribbean 9. This reveals the marked difference in the capacity of the region s countries to tackle the crisis and, given the situation of the international financial markets today, underscores the importance of expediting and increasing the lines of credit that the international financial institutions can offer to help countries finance measures to counteract the effects of the crisis 1. Despite these limitations, the countries of the region have reacted swiftly and implemented a broad range of countercyclical policies Monetary policy Almost all the countries have taken action in this area to ensure sufficient liquidity to keep the financial system working. The scope of these policies is limited, however, because: - The region s economies are not highly monetized, which curbs the impact of monetary policy. - Under the present situation, increasing money supply does not guarantee an increase in credit, which in turn does not guarantee an expansion of demand. Fiscal policy Fiscal policy action is more appropriate in these cases, but more difficult to implement. It also depends on a country s institutional capacity and its macroeconomic policy space. Lowering taxes is easier but less effective because the increase in private income does not necessarily translate into an increase in private spending. A large portion usually ends up in savings. Increasing spending is more effective, but not every country has projects ready and waiting for rapid implementation. Targeted subsidies are highly effective, but the possible beneficiaries of social programmes have not been identified in every country. There is a trade-off between the effectiveness and the institutional and administrative complexity of increasing public spending. Exchange and trade policies Only four countries have raised import duties, which is an auspicious sign. Greater emphasis has been placed on foreign trade financing. A growing number of countries are applying for loans from international agencies, especially to guarantee export financing and to increase the space they have for implementing countercyclical policies. Sectoral policies Housing and building programmes have been carried out given their positive effect on employment and domestic demand, as well as their social impact. SME support programmes have been implemented owing to the role SMEs play in job creation. Sector-specific support programmes have also been set up, especially for agriculture. More attention has been paid to developing social programmes, some of which have targeted specific segments, than to active employment policies. 15

17 The repercussions of the crisis on the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean 11. The international financial institutions must provide the resources needed to finance countercyclical policies The region has room to increase its borrowings from the international financial institutions. The measures announced by the Group of Twenty (G2) to increase the financing capacity of international agencies, and the International Monetary Fund in particular, need to be implemented soon. Greater liquidity would broaden the policy space for breaking the vicious circle of recession, expanding poverty, rising social tension and worsening macroeconomic indicators. It would also prevent the situation from worsening even more and from generating economic, social and political consequences that could be difficult to reverse. Poverty indicators take almost twice as long to recover as GDP indicators. 12. Beyond the crisis: dilemmas and challenges Avoiding old and new forms of protectionism Uncertain environmental impact A new international financial architecture? Reducing unemployment and poverty What combination of public policies is needed for the new, regulated markets? Bilateralism versus multilateralism as options for integrating with the global economy Strengthening democracy and civil society participation New risks: security and the illegal economy 16

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