Mr. Ravi Balakrishnan, Sandra Lizarazo, Marika Santoro, Mr. Frederik G Toscani, and Mr. Mauricio Vargas
Over the past decades, inequality has risen not just in advanced economies but also in many emerging market and developing economies, becoming one of the key global policy challenges. And throughout the 20th century, Latin America was associated with some of the world’s highest levels of inequality. Yet something interesting happened in the first decade and a half of the 21st century. Latin America was the only region in the World to have experienced significant declines in inequality in that period. Poverty also fell in Latin America, although this was replicated in other regions, and Latin America started from a relatively low base. Starting around 2014, however, and even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, poverty and inequality gains had already slowed in Latin America and, in some cases, gone into reverse. And the COVID-19 shock, which is still playing out, is likely to dramatically worsen short-term poverty and inequality dynamics. Against this background, this departmental paper investigates the link between commodity prices, and poverty and inequality developments in Latin America.
International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.
This paper presents Bolivia’s Request for Purchase Under the Rapid Financing Instrument (RFI). Bolivia has requested a purchase under the RFI to cover the urgent balance of payments need arising from an ongoing shift in its terms of trade, slowdown in capital flows, and sudden increase in health care expenditure needs, precipitated by the coronavirus disease 2019 epidemic. The IMF staff assess that Bolivia meets the eligibility requirements for the RFI. Public debt is sustainable, and Bolivia has adequate capacity to repay the IMF. The epidemic will have a substantial impact on Bolivia’s economy, constraining domestic output, reducing export demand, lowering the price of its principal exports, curtailing external financing flows, squeezing fiscal revenues, and increasing expenditures for public health and social support. In IMF staff’s view, Bolivia’s debt remains sustainable over the medium term and, while the outlook remains highly uncertain, Bolivia maintains an adequate capacity to repay the IMF. The IMF staff therefore recommend Board approval of Bolivia’s request for a purchase under the RFI of 100 percent of quota.
Mr. Etibar Jafarov, Mr. Rodolfo Maino, and Mr. Marco Pani
Financial repression (legal restrictions on interest rates, credit allocation, capital movements, and other financial operations) was widely used in the past but was largely abandoned in the liberalization wave of the 1990s, as widespread support for interventionist policies gave way to a renewed conception of government as an impartial referee. Financial repression has come back on the agenda with the surge in public debt in the wake of the Global Financial Crisis, and some countries have reintroduced administrative ceilings on interest rates. By distorting market incentives and signals, financial repression induces losses from inefficiency and rent-seeking that are not easily quantified. This study attempts to assess some of these losses by estimating the impact of financial repression on growth using an updated index of interest rate controls covering 90 countries over 45 years. The results suggest that financial repression poses a significant drag on growth, which could amount to 0.4-0.7 percentage points.