The IMF Working Papers series is designed to make IMF staff research available to a wide audience. Almost 300 Working Papers are released each year, covering a wide range of theoretical and analytical topics, including balance of payments, monetary and fiscal issues, global liquidity, and national and international economic developments.
Intermediation spreads in Latin America are high by international standards. This paper examines the determinants of bank interest margins in that region using bank and country-level data from 85 countries, including 14 Latin American economies. The results suggest that Latin America has higher interest rates, less efficient banks, and larger reserve requirements than other regions and that these factors have a significant impact on spreads. However, Latin American countries do not differ markedly from their peers in other aspects that are found important in determining the cost of financial intermediation, such as inflation and bank profit taxation.