Abstract

Latin America had a remarkable economic performance in the first decade of the 2000s. Real output grew at a rapid pace, inflation was low and relatively stable, public debt declined significantly, and international reserves increased. The economic prosperity was broadly shared: income inequality declined in many countries and there was a sharp reduction in poverty rates. Although prudent policies and skillful economic management contributed to these achievements, exceptionally favorable external conditions played a key role, acting as a catalyst for growth. Strong demand for the region’s commodity exports led to a wave of investment and an unprecedented income windfall, while easy global financial conditions pushed financing costs to record lows. The global recession of 2009 made only a temporary dent in the region’s growth ascent. In the two years following the crisis, many countries posted record-high growth rates.