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International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.
The pandemic hit the Chilean economy while it was recovering from the 2019 social unrest. The authorities’ swift and strong economic policy efforts and Chile’s very strong institutional frameworks helped buffer the economic and social consequences. The ongoing economic recovery continues to be supported by ample policy stimulus, a rapid vaccination process, well-anchored inflation expectations, a resilient export base, and continued market confidence.
International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.
The Chilean economy has been hit by the pandemic while recovering from the social unrest in late 2019, requiring substantial adjustment of economic policies and the appropriate use of existing policy buffers. Following a sharp decline in mid-2020, economic activity started recovering in 2020H2 in the wake of ample policy stimulus. Inflation remains near the policy target, with inflation expectations anchored, and the current account balance has improved amid a sharp drop in imports and relatively resilient exports. Fiscal and monetary policies remain guided by the structural fiscal balance rule and the inflation-targeting framework, respectively. Beyond the pandemic-related risks, there is uncertainty stemming from a series of elections and the outcome of a New Constitution process—scheduled to finish in mid-2022—which are expected to shape the public discourse and influence the policy agenda.
Mauricio Cardenas, Mr. Luca A Ricci, Mr. Jorge Roldos, and Alejandro M. Werner
The fiscal policy response to the COVID-19 shock in most LAC countries was much larger than during the GFC, suggesting fiscal space was not as tight as expected. We argue that it is feasible and desirable, though not without risks, to embark in a more gradual consolidation path than currently envisaged by several countries in the region. Avoiding an early withdrawal of support in 2021 and 2022 is important given that countries are still facing high rates of contagion and deaths, vaccination will take place very slowly, the economic recovery is partial, uncertain and not strong enough to help those most affected by the twin public health and economic crisis. At the center of this discussion is our conviction that fiscal space is not set in stone and it is endogenous to the medium-term targets and commitments undertaken by governments and congresses throughout the region. Also, revisions to fiscal responsibility frameworks should help anchor fiscal sustainability, as well as improve their effectiveness and flexibility. In this context, low-for-long interest rates and easy market access is generating a situation that, in spite of higher debt levels, interest cost on public debt will remain contained in the foreseeable future. Especially if, as argued in this paper, a more gradual fiscal consolidation path is accompanied with stronger commitments and institutional frameworks that ensure debt is put on a credible downward trajectory once the pandemic is under control. Catalyzing these changes, as well as initiating the debate to design other fiscal reforms to strengthen social protection and increase the progressivity of public finances, would require a broad social consensus and political cohesion around several crucial dimensions of public finances: a fiscal pact. On the other hand, if this agenda is neglected the continuation of low growth, social discontent, and political polarization could drive Latin America towards a very dangerous path of institutional and economic decay.
International Monetary Fund. Finance Dept.
On October 30, 2020, the IMF’s Executive Board reviewed the adequacy of the Fund’s precautionary balances. Precautionary balances, comprising the Fund’s general and special reserves and the Special Contingent Account (SCA-1), are one element of the IMF’s multi-layered framework for managing financial risks. These balances provide a buffer to protect the Fund against potential losses, resulting from credit, income, and other financial risks. This review of the adequacy of the Fund’s precautionary balances took place on the standard two-year cycle, although it was delayed by a few months to allow for an assessment of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Fund financial risks. In conducting the review, the Executive Board applied the rules-based framework agreed in 2010.
International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.
While Panama has been the most dynamic economy in Latin America over the last three decades (growing 6 percent on average), its strength is being tested by the COVID-19 global pandemic. Panama is a service-based economy that is highly integrated in the world economy and exposed to extreme shocks during the pandemic.
International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.

Abstract

The pandemic continues to spread in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), but economic activity is picking up. After a deep contraction in April, activity started recovering in May, as lockdowns were gradually eased, consumers and firms adapted to social distancing, some countries introduced sizable policy support, and global activity strengthened.

International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.

Abstract

The pandemic continues to spread in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), but economic activity is picking up. After a deep contraction in April, activity started recovering in May, as lockdowns were gradually eased, consumers and firms adapted to social distancing, some countries introduced sizable policy support, and global activity strengthened.

International Monetary Fund. Monetary and Capital Markets Department

Abstract

Near-term global financial stability risks have been contained as an unprecedented policy response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has helped avert a financial meltdown and maintain the flow of credit to the economy. For the first time, many emerging market central banks have launched asset purchase programs to support the smooth functioning of financial markets and the overall economy. But the outlook remains highly uncertain, and vulnerabilities are rising, representing potential headwinds to recovery. The report presents an assessment of the real-financial disconnect, as well as forward-looking analysis of nonfinancial firms, banks, and emerging market capital flows. After the outbreak, firms’ cash flows were adversely affected as economic activity declined sharply. More vulnerable firms—those with weaker solvency and liquidity positions and smaller size—experienced greater financial stress than their peers in the early stages of the crisis. As the crisis unfolds, corporate liquidity pressures may morph into insolvencies, especially if the recovery is delayed. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are more vulnerable than large firms with access to capital markets. Although the global banking system is well capitalized, some banking systems may experience capital shortfalls in an adverse scenario, even with the currently deployed policy measures. The report also assesses the pandemic’s impact on firms’ environmental performance to gauge the extent to which the crisis may result in a reversal of the gains posted in recent years.

International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.

Abstract

The pandemic continues to spread in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), but economic activity is picking up. After a deep contraction in April, activity started recovering in May, as lockdowns were gradually eased, consumers and firms adapted to social distancing, some countries introduced sizable policy support, and global activity strengthened.

Juan Pablo Cuesta Aguirre and Mrs. Swarnali A Hannan
Mexico has had one of the highest death tolls from Covid-19 and among the largest declines in output compared to peers. This paper utilizes data on Mexico’s thirty-two states to better understand the relationship between health and economic outcomes. For instance, did the states with worse pandemic outcomes suffer more economically? What state-level characteristics impacted health and economic outcomes? Among the findings are: individual traits such as age and certain pre-existing conditions were associated with higher illness and fatality risks. States with higher initial health expenditure and capacity on average had a lower case fatality rate. The economic fallout was widespread well beyond the direct impact of the pandemic. Tourism-heavy states were particularly badly affected, while states with larger exposures to manufacturing exports performed better. These findings support the case for adequate health spending, fiscal lifelines for hard-hit workers and sectors, and further integration into global value chains to bolster economic outcomes and resilience.