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.

Annex 1. COVID-19 in Latin America and the Caribbean1

Latin America locked down early, when total cases were still low. Lockdowns were stringent, and mobility plummeted for a while. However, the lockdowns in Latin America were not fully effective, and mobility started rising even before the relaxation of the mobility restrictions and when new cases and deaths were still on the rise. With that, the number of deaths gradually increased, resulting in a slow-burn pattern, in contrast to a rapid explosion of infections that occurred in Europe. Structural factors, including a high degree of poverty and informality, urban agglomeration, weak state capacity and lack of fiscal resources, weak health systems, and lack of tests and tracing, have contributed to the region’s difficulties in containing the pandemic and continue to represent challenges for reopening. For example, local projection estimates show that in countries with low informality/high government effectiveness, the increase in total cases 30 days after the introduction of containment measures was about 75/65 percent lower compared with similar countries that did not introduce such measures (Annex Figure 1.1). By contrast, countries with high informality/low government effectiveness that imposed containment measures experienced an increase/no change in total cases relative to comparators.

IMF staff analysis also suggests that the high total death toll in Latin America can be linked to weak hospital capacity, high population density, and in some cases, large populations more generally and the geographic location, while relatively favorable demographics and BCG vaccination (against tuberculosis) have helped reduce total death toll in the region (Annex Table 1.1, IMF 2020a).

Annex Table 1.1.

Correlates of Total Deaths

(Dependent variable: total deaths per million)

Source: IMF staff calculations.Note: Population density is not significant at the country level but is significant at the municipal level. Geographic latitude, which is difficult to control for at the country level, is significant at the municipal level (IMF 2020a). Standard errors are in parentheses.BCG 5 Bacillus Calmette–Guérin; LAC 5 Latin America and the Caribbean; Y = yes.*p = 0.1; **p = 0.05; ***p = 0.01.

The prolonged period of depressed mobility led to an important adverse impact on economic activity. The drop in mobility and the associated decline in economic activity were not just the result of policy-mandated lockdowns, but also of the change in behavior in reaction to the pandemic. However, quantitative analysis suggests that the impact of both the lockdowns and self-imposed quarantines induced by a rapid spread of the disease has diminished over time (IMF 2020a).

Annex Figure 1.1.
Annex Figure 1.1.

Determinants of the Effectiveness of Containment Measures

Source: IMF staff calculations.Note: Shaded area refers to the 90 percent confidence interval. Dashed line refers to the baseline. COVID-19 = coronavirus disease.

Annex 2. Latin American Labor Markets during COVID-191

The coronavirus pandemic has severely affected labor markets, and employment losses have been distributed unevenly across the population of LAC (IMF 2020b). Employment fell more steeply for women, especially in Brazil, Colombia, and Peru (Annex Figure 2.1, panel 1). Young and older workers were affected more than those between 25 and 60 years of age (Annex Figure 2.1, panel 2). Similarly, workers with tertiary education suffered smaller reductions in employment, and in Brazil and Chile, employment levels for this group were back to pre-pandemic levels by June (Annex Figure 2.1, panel 3). The large decline in informal employment is related to this pattern— except in Colombia, informal employment fell at a higher rate than formal employment (Annex Figure 2.1, panel 4).

Annex Figure 2.1.
Annex Figure 2.1.

Employment Changes by Workers’ Characteristics

(Percent; February to June 2020)

Sources: National statistics agencies; and IMF staff calculations.Note: For Mexico, changes are for June relative to the first quarter of 2020. For Brazil, age groups are as follows: younger than age 24, 25–40, 41–60, and older than age 60. Data for Peru are for Lima; no data are available for informality.

The shock’s uneven impact relates to differences in exposure across types of workers and highlights the pandemic’s distributional consequences. Contact-intensive occupations are more common among women and informal workers, and the ability to work remotely is more prevalent among formal workers and high-skilled workers. The link between job losses and educational attainment and informality highlights the shock’s regressive nature, because low educational attainment and informality are more pervasive among poor and vulnerable households.

Annex 3. Fiscal Policy at the Time of a Pandemic: How Has Latin America and the Caribbean Fared?1

Governments in the Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) region have announced packages of fiscal support in the wake of the pandemic, amounting to 8 percent of GDP on average. This includes above-the-line and below-the-line and of budget measures. Simulations based on a structural model (IMF 2020c) show that these exceptional measures are playing a key role in mitigating the effects of the pandemic (Annex Figure 3.1). The simulations distinguish between various components of the fiscal packages and their multipliers. Although evidence suggests that multipliers tend to be higher during crises relative to “normal” times, the coronavirus pandemic is a unique shock. There are indications of large output gaps, which would point to more potent fiscal policy effects. However, the pandemic also entailed disruptions on the supply side, which would suggest a more muted impact for fiscal policy. This is because sectoral shutdowns dampen some of the traditional effects of fiscal policy as a result of a lower average propensity to consume and a lack of second-round effects.

Annex Figure 3.1.
Annex Figure 3.1.

Effects of COVID-19 Measures

Sources: IMF (2020c); national authorities; and IMF staff calculations.Note: Based on model simulations and IMF staff estimates. LAC = Latin America and the Caribbean.

Considering these caveats, the simulations show that the effects of the above-the-line fiscal measures on real GDP are sizable, amounting to an increase of about 5 percent relative to the baseline without fiscal support. The debt-to-GDP ratio increases by about 2 percentage points relative to baseline within a year. Effects dissipate in the medium term because economies are expected to unwind stimulus and embark on partial consolidations. The initial boost to activity materializes through a jump in consumption as a result of the increase in transfers and income support measures, while the fiscal packages— supported by monetary accommodation—provide a considerable stimulus through investment over the outer years.

Estimates also suggest that below-the-line and of-budget measures could add between 1 and 2 percentage points to real GDP levels. The combined effect of above- and below-the-line measures, if implemented fully, would be sizable, raising Latin America and the Caribbean’s real GDP by about 6 to 7 percent within a year relative to the counterfactual.

IMF (2020c) discusses in detail fiscal policy recommendations to address challenges across the different stages of the pandemic. As lockdowns are gradually lifted, under uncertainty about the pandemic’s course, fiscal actions could focus on gradually scaling down lifelines. At this stage, broad-based fiscal stimulus could support the recovery when there is fiscal space, but any additional support should be done under a clear commitment to adjustment over the medium term to restore sustainability. In that context, fiscal rules will play an important role. Moreover, the passing of legislation to ensure fiscal consolidation over the medium term (such as preapproval of tax reforms) would also help as a commitment device. Enhancements to automatic stabilizers and safety nets would strengthen a more inclusive recovery.

Annex 4. Assessing the Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the Corporate and Banking Sectors in Latin America1

The COVID-19 pandemic is having large negative effects in the nonfinancial corporate sector in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC). Corporate performance had already weakened in the period before the pandemic, with falling profitability and increasing leverage (Annex Figure 4.1, panel 1). Performance worsened further in the second quarter of 2020 and is expected to remain weak in the rest of 2020 and in 2021 (IMF 2020d). The share of corporate debt at risk, defined as debt of firms with earnings before taxes and interest lower than interest expense, has doubled from 14 percent in December 2019 to 29 percent in June 2020, and could rise further to near 50 percent in 2021 in an adverse scenario, in which corporate earnings do not grow and interest expenses increase in line with the rise in corporate debt (IMF 2020d).

Annex Figure 4.1.
Annex Figure 4.1.

Corporate and Financial Vulnerabilities

Sources: Bloomberg Finance L.P.; IMF, Financial Soundness Indicators database; national authorities; and IMF staff calculations.Note: CET1 = common equity Tier 1; EME = emerging market economies.1 Median of the nonfinancial corporations of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru. Shaded area refers to the 25th to 75th percentile range.

The pandemic’s adverse impact on nonfinancial corporations, together with the deep economic recession and large employment losses, is expected to exert pressure on banking systems. LAC banks entered the pandemic on a relatively strong footing, with ample capital and liquidity buffers and low nonperforming loans (Annex Figure 4.1, panel 2). Although financial soundness indicators worsened somewhat in the first half of 2020, the impact has been moderate so far, also reflecting the impact of financial sector policies that mitigate bank balance sheet stress. To assess the potential impact of the pandemic on the banking system, IMF (2020d) performs a simple forward-looking top-down solvency stress tests, for both the World Economic Outlook (WEO) baseline and adverse scenarios, using publicly available data for a sample of 61 major banks in the six largest economies in LAC, covering over 75 percent of bank assets in each jurisdiction.

The results from the stress test exercise indicate that under the WEO baseline scenario, most LAC banks would be able to maintain their capital ratios well above regulatory minimums, even under higher responsiveness of nonperforming loans and profitability than their historical standards. However, in the WEO adverse scenario weaker banks with high nonperforming loans and low profitability at the onset of the pandemic crisis would face a significant deterioration in their capital positions, and some of them could experience capital shortfalls without a policy response (Annex Figure 4.1, panel 3).

Annex 5. Disclaimer

For Argentina, fiscal and inflation variables are excluded from publication for 2021–25 and 2020–25, respectively, as these are to a large extent linked to still pending program negotiations. The official national consumer price index (CPI) for Argentina starts in December 2016. For earlier periods, CPI data for Argentina reflect the Greater Buenos Aires Area CPI (prior to December 2013), the national CPI (IPCNu)—(December 2013–October 2015), the City of Buenos Aires CPI (November 2015–April 2016), and the Greater Buenos Aires Area CPI (May–December 2016). Given limited comparability of these series on account of differences in geographic coverage, weights, sampling, and methodology, the average CPI inflation for 2014–16 and end-of-period inflation for 2015–16 are not reported in the October 2020 World Economic Outlook (WEO). Also, Argentina discontinued the publication of labor market data in December 2015, and new series became available starting in the second quarter of 2016.

The fiscal series for the Dominican Republic have the following coverage: public debt, debt service, and the cyclically adjusted/structural balances are for the consolidated public sector (which includes central government, the rest of the nonfinancial public sector, and the central bank); the remaining fiscal series are for the central government.

The fiscal data for Ecuador reflect net lending/ borrowing for the nonfinancial public sector. The Ecuadorean authorities, with technical support from the IMF, are undertaking revisions of the historical fiscal data for the net lending/borrowing of the nonfinancial public sector over the period 2012–17, with a view to correcting recently identified statistical errors in data compilation at the subnational level and the consistency between above-the-line and financing data by subsectors.

Starting in October 2018 Uruguay’s public pension system began receiving transfers in the context of a new law that compensates persons affected by the creation of the mixed pension system. These funds are recorded as revenues, consistent with the IMF’s methodology, and also affect net lending/borrowing series. Therefore, data and projections for 2018–21 are affected by these transfers, which amounted to 1.3 percent of GDP in 2018 and 1.2 percent of GDP in 2019 and are projected to be 0.8 percent of GDP in 2020, 0.2 percent of GDP in 2021, and zero thereafter. See IMF Country Report 19/64.

The coverage of the fiscal data for Uruguay was changed from consolidated public sector to nonfinancial public sector (NFPS) with the October 2019 WEO. In Uruguay, NFPS coverage includes central government, local government, social security funds, nonfinancial public corporations, and Banco de Seguros del Estado. Historical data were also revised accordingly. Under this narrower fiscal perimeter—which excludes the central bank—assets and liabilities held by the NFPS where the counterpart is the central bank are not netted out in debt fgures. In this context, capitalization bonds issued in the past by the government to the central bank are now part of the NFPS debt.

Projecting the economic outlook in Venezuela, including assessing past and current economic developments as the basis for the projections, is complicated by the lack of discussions with the authorities (the lastest Article IV consultation took place in 2004), incomplete understanding of the reported data, and difficulties in interpreting certain reported economic indicators given economic developments. The fiscal accounts include the budgetary central government; social security; FOGADE (insurance deposit institution); and a sample of public enterprises, including Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PDVSA); data for 2018–19 are IMF staff estimates. The effects of hyperinflation and the paucity of reported data mean that the IMF staff’s projected macroeconomic indicators need to be interpreted with caution. For example, nominal GDP is estimated assuming the GDP deflator rises in line with the IMF staf’s projection of average inflation. Public external debt in relation to GDP is projected using the IMF staf’s estimate of the average exchange rate for the year. Wide uncertainty surrounds these projections. Venezuela’s consumer prices are excluded from all WEO group composites.

Appendix Table 1.

Western Hemisphere: Main Economic Indicators1

Sources: IMF, World Economic Outlook database; and IMF staff calculations and projections.Note: CAPDR 5 Central America, Panama, and the Dominican Republic; LAC 5 Latin America and the Caribbean.

Regional output growth aggregates are purchasing-power-parity GDP-weighted averages. Consumer price index (CPI) inflation aggregates exclude Venezuela, but include Argentina starting in 2017, and are geometric averages. Current account aggregates are US dollar nominal GDP-weighted averages. Consistent with the IMF World Economic Outlook, the cutoff date for the data and projections in this table is September 28, 2020.

These figures will generally differ from period average inflation reported in the IMF World Economic Outlook, although both are based on the same underlying series.

Puerto Rico is classified as an advanced economy. It is a territory of the United States, but its statistical data are maintained on a separate and independent basis.

See Annex 5 for details on the data.

Ratios to GDP are based on the 2007-base GDP series.

fiscal year data.

Eastern Caribbean Currency Union comprises Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, as well as Anguilla and Montserrat, which are not IMF members.

Appendix Table 2.

Western Hemisphere: Main Fiscal Indicators1

Sources: IMF, World Economic Outlook database; and IMF staff calculations and projections.Note: CAPDR 5 Central America, Panama, and the Dominican Republic; LAC 5 Latin America and the Caribbean.

Definitions of government vary across countries, depending on country-specific institutional differences, including on what constitutes the appropriate coverage from a fiscal policy perspective, as defined by IMF staff. All indicators are reported on a fiscal year basis. Regional aggregates are fiscal year US dollar nominal GDP-weighted averages. Consistent with the IMF World Economic Outlook, the cutoff date for the data and projections in this table is September 28, 2020.

Includes central government, social security system funds, nonfinancial public corporations, and nonmonetary public financial corporations.

For cross-country comparability, expenditure and fiscal balances of the United States exclude the items related to the accrual basis accounting of government employees’ defined-benefit pension plans, which are counted as expenditure under the 2008 System of National Accounts (2008 SNA) adopted by the United States, but not for countries that have not yet adopted the 2008 SNA. data for the United States in this table may thus differ from data published by the US bureau of Economic Analysis.

Puerto Rico is classified as an advanced economy. It is a territory of the United States, but its statistical data are maintained on a separate and independent basis.

Primary expenditure and primary balance include the federal government, provinces, and social security funds. Gross debt is for the federal government only.

Nonfinancial public sector, excluding the operations of nationalized mixed-ownership companies in the hydrocarbon and electricity sectors.

Nonfinancial public sector, excluding Petrobras and Eletrobras, and consolidated with the sovereign wealth fund. The definition includes Treasury securities on the central bank’s balance sheet, including those not used under repurchase agreements (repos). The national definition of general government gross debt includes the stock of Treasury securities used for monetary policy purposes by the central bank (those pledged as security in reverse repo operations). It excludes the rest of the government securities held by the central bank.

Nonfinancial public sector reported for primary balances (excluding statistical discrepancies); combined public sector including Ecopetrol and excluding banco de la República’s outstanding external debt reported for gross public debt.

See Annex 5 for details on Ecuador’s data. Public sector gross debt includes liabilities under advance oil sales, which are not treated as public debt in the authorities’ definition. In late 2016, the authorities changed the definition of debt to a consolidated basis; both the historical and projection numbers are now presented on a consolidated basis.

See Annex 5 for details on Uruguay’s data. The coverage of the fiscal data was changed from consolidated public sector to nonfinancial public sector with the October 2019 World Economic Outlook. Historical data were revised accordingly.

See Annex 5 for details on Venezuela’s data.

Central government only.

Central government for primary expenditure and primary balance; gross debt is presented on a consolidated basis.

Ratios to GDP are based on the 2007-base GDP series. fiscal data cover the nonfinancial public sector excluding the Panama Canal Authority.

Central government for primary expenditure and primary balance; public sector for gross debt. for Jamaica, the public debt includes central government, guaranteed, and PetroCaribe debt.

Overall and primary balances cover budgetary central government. Gross debt covers central government debt, central government guaranteed debt, and arrears.

For 2017, primary balance includes a one-off capital transfer of 2.5 percent of GDP. Excluding this one-off capital transfer, a primary surplus of 1.3 percent of GDP is estimated.

Primary expenditures for Suriname exclude net lending.

Eastern Caribbean Currency Union comprises Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, as well as Anguilla and Montserrat, which are not IMF members.

References

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Country Groups and Country Abbreviations

Country Groups

List of Country Abbreviations

Antigua and Barbuda

ATG

Argentina

ARG

Aruba

AbW

The Bahamas

BHS

Barbados

BRB

Belize

BLZ

Bolivia

BOL

Brazil

BRA

Canada

CAN

Chile

CHL

Colombia

COL

Costa Rica

CRI

Dominica

DMA

Dominican Republic

DOM

Ecuador

ECU

El Salvador

SLV

Grenada

GRD

Guatemala

GTM

Guyana

GUY

Haiti

HTI

Honduras

HND

Jamaica

JAM

Mexico

MEX

Nicaragua

NIC

Panama

PAN

Paraguay

PRY

Peru

PER

Puerto Rico

PRI

St. Kitts and Nevis

KNA

St. Lucia

LCA

St. Vincent and the Grenadines

VCT

Suriname

SUR

Trinidad and Tobago

TTO

United States

USA

Uruguay

URY

Venezuela

VEN

1

Uruguay also issued local currency global bonds (indexed to inflation).

2

Brazil, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Paraguay have issued since April.

3

Some countries have experienced delays in the implementation of investment plans and in health expenditure.

1

This annex is based on IMF (2020a), prepared by Bas Bakker (co-lead), Carlos Gonçalves (co-lead), Carlo Pizzinelli, Pedro Rodrí-guez, Mauricio Vargas, and Dmitry Vasilyev.

1

This annex is based on IMF (2020b), prepared by Takuji Komat-suzaki, Carlo Pizzinelli, Samuel Pienknagura (co-lead), Jorge Roldos (co-lead), and Frederik Toscani.

1

This annex is based on IMF (2020c), prepared by Ali Alichi (lead), Antonio David, Metodij Hadzi-Vaskov, Keiko Honjo, Roberto Perrelli, and Mehdi Raissi, under the guidance of Hamid Faruqee.

1

This annex is based on IMF (2020d), prepared by two teams: one comprising Pablo Bejar, Pelin Berkmen (co-lead), Farid Boumediene, Kotaro Ishi, Salma Khalid, Takuji Komatsuzaki, Cheng Hoon Lim (co-lead), and Dmitry Vasilyev, the other comprising Serhan Cevik (co-lead), Jaime Guajardo (co-lead), and Fedor Miryugin.

  • Blanchard, O., T. Philippon, J. Pisani-Ferry. 2020. “A New Policy Toolkit Is Needed as Countries Exit COVID-19 Lockdowns.” Peterson Institute for International Economics, Policy Brief 20–8. Washington, DC.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Dingel, J., and B. Neiman. 2020. “How Many Jobs Can Be Done at Home?NBER Working Paper 26948, National Bureau of Economic Research, Cambridge, MA.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC). 2020. “Addressing the Growing Impact of COVID-19 with a View to Reactivation with Equality: New Projections.” Special Report Covid-19 No. 5, United Nations, New York.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hale, T., S. Webster, A. Petherick, T. Phillips, and B. Kira. 2020. University of Oxford Coronavirus Government Response Tracker, Blavatnik School of Government. https://www.bsg.ox.ac.uk/research/researchprojects/coronavirusgovernmentresponsetracker.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • International Monetary Fund (IMF). 2020a. “COVID-19 in Latin America and the Caribbean.” Regional Economic Outlook: Western Hemisphere Background Paper 1, Washington, DC, October.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • International Monetary Fund (IMF). 2020b. “Latin American Labor Markets During COVID-19.” Regional Economic Outlook: Western Hemisphere Background Paper 2, Washington, DC, October.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • International Monetary Fund (IMF). 2020c. “Fiscal Policy at the Time of a Pandemic: How Has Latin America and the Caribbean Fared?” Regional Economic Outlook: Western Hemisphere Background Paper 3, Washington, DC, October.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • International Monetary Fund (IMF). 2020d. ““Assessing the Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the Corporate and Banking Sectors in Latin America.” Regional Economic Outlook: Western Hemisphere Background Paper 4, Washington, DC, October.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • International Monetary Fund (IMF). 2020e. “The International Architecture for Resolving Sovereign Debt Involving Private-Sector Creditors: Recent Developments, Challenges, and Reform Options.” IMF Policy Paper 2020/043, Washington, DC.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lustig, N., V. Martinez Pabon, F. Sanz, and S. Younger. 2020. “The Impact of COVID-19 Lockdowns and Social Assistance on Inequality, Poverty and Mobility in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, and Mexico.” CEQ Institute Working Paper 92, Commitment to Equity Institute, Tulane University, New Orleans.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation