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  • Author: Nora Lustig
  • Publication Date: 03-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: This paper presents results on the impact of fiscal policy on inequality and poverty in sixteen Latin American countries around 2010. The countries that redistribute the most are Argentina, Brazil, Costa Rica and Uruguay, and the least, Guatemala, Honduras and Peru. At higher social spending, greater redistribution is achieved, but countries with a similar level of social spending show different levels of redistribution which suggests that other factors such as the composition and targeting of the expenditures are involved in determining the redistributive effect beyond its size. Fiscal policy reduces extreme poverty in twelve countries. However, the incidence of poverty after taxes, subsidies and monetary transfers is higher than the pre-fisc poverty rate in Bolivia, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua, even when fiscal policy does reduce inequality. Expenditure on pre-school and primary education is equalizing and pro-poor in all countries. Spending on secondary education is equalizing in all countries and also pro-poor in some countries but not all. Expenditure on tertiary education is never pro-poor, but it is equalizing, with the exception of Guatemala, where it is regressive and unequalizing and in Venezuela, where its redistributive effect is zero. Health spending is always equalizing but it is pro-poor only in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, the Dominican Republic, Uruguay and Venezuela.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Poverty, Capitalism, Income Inequality
  • Political Geography: Latin America
  • Author: Nora Lustig, Maynor Cabrera, Hilcías E. Morán
  • Publication Date: 03-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: Guatemala is one of the most unequal countries in Latin America and has the highest incidence of poverty. The indigenous population is more than twice as likely to be poor than the nonindigenous group. Fiscal incidence analysis based on the 2009-2010 National Survey of Family Income and Expenditures shows that taxes and transfers do almost nothing to reduce inequality and poverty overall or along ethnic and rural-urban lines. Persistently low tax revenues are the main limiting factor. Tax revenues are not only low but also regressive. Consumption taxes are regressive enough to offset the benefits of cash transfers: poverty after taxes and cash transfers is higher than market income poverty.
  • Political Geography: Latin America
  • Author: Nora Lustig
  • Publication Date: 08-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: This paper examines the redistributive impact of fiscal policy for Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Indonesia, Mexico, Peru and South Africa using comparable fiscal incidence analysis with data from around 2010. The largest redistributive effect is in South Africa and the smallest in Indonesia. While fiscal policy always reduces inequality, this is not the case with poverty.
  • Topic: Economics, Poverty, Social Stratification
  • Political Geography: Africa, South America, Latin America
  • Author: Juan Camilo Castillo, Daniel Mejia, Pascual Restrepo
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: Using the case of the cocaine trade in Mexico as a relevant and salient example, this paper shows that scarcity leads to violence in markets without third party enforcement. We construct a model in which supply shortages increase total revenue when demand is inelastic. If property rights over revenues are not well defined because of the lack of reliable third party enforcement, the incentives to prey on others and avoid predation by exercising violence increase with scarcity, thus increasing violence. We test our model and the proposed channel using data for the cocaine trade in Mexico. We found that exogenous supply shocks originated in changes in the amount of cocaine seized in Colombia (Mexico's main cocaine supplier) create scarcity and increase drug-related violence in Mexico.
  • Topic: Crime, Economics, War on Drugs, Narcotics Trafficking, Law Enforcement
  • Political Geography: Colombia, Latin America, Mexico
  • Author: Oeindrila Dube, Omar Garcia-Ponce, Kevin Thom
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: We examine how commodity price shocks experienced by rural producers affect the drug trade in Mexico. Our analysis exploits exogenous movements in the Mexican maize price stemming from weather conditions in U.S. maize-growing regions, as well as export flows of other major maize producers. Using data on over 2,200 municipios spanning 1990-2010, we show that lower prices differentially increased the cultivation of both marijuana and opium poppies in municipios more climatically suited to growing maize. This increase was accompanied by differentially lower rural wages, suggesting that households planted more drug crops in response to the decreased income generating potential of maize farming.
  • Topic: Agriculture, Economics, Poverty, War on Drugs, Narcotics Trafficking
  • Political Geography: Latin America, Mexico
  • Author: Liliana Rojas-Suarez, Maria Alejandra Amado
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: This paper analyzes Latin America's Financial Inclusion Gap, the difference between the average financial inclusion for Latin America and the corresponding average for a set of comparator countries. At the country level, we assess four types of obstacles to financial inclusion: macroeconomic weaknesses, income inequality, institutional deficiencies and financial sector inefficiencies. A key finding of this paper is that although the four types of obstacles explain the absolute level of financial inclusion, institutional deficiencies and income inequality are the most important obstacles behind the Latin America's financial inclusion gap. From our analysis at the individual level, we find that there is a Latin America-specific effect of education and income. The results suggest that the effect of attaining secondary education on the probability of being financially included is significantly higher in Latin America than in its comparators. Furthermore, the difference in the probability of being financially included between the richest and the poorest individuals is significantly higher in Latin America than in comparator countries.
  • Topic: Economics, Education, Human Rights, Poverty
  • Political Geography: Latin America
  • Author: Amanda Glassman, Juan Ignacio Zoloa
  • Publication Date: 10-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: As Latin American countries seek to expand the coverage and benefits provided by their health systems under a global drive for universal health coverage (UHC), decisions taken today–whether by government or individuals-will have an impact tomorrow on public spending requirements. To understand the implications of these decisions and define needed policy reforms, this paper calculates long-term projections for public spending on health in three countries, analyzing different scenarios related to population, risk factors, labor market participation, and technological growth. In addition, the paper simulates the effects of different policy options and their potential knock-on effects on health expenditure.
  • Topic: Health, Governance, Reform
  • Political Geography: Brazil, Latin America, Mexico, Chile
  • Author: Martin Persson, Sabine Henders, Thomas Kastner
  • Publication Date: 10-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: This paper aims to improve our understanding of how and where global supply-chains link consumers of agricultural and forest commodities across the world to forest destruction in tropical countries. A better understanding of these linkages can help inform and support the design of demand-side interventions to reduce tropical deforestation. To that end, we map the link between deforestation for four commodities (beef, soybeans, palm oil, and wood products) in eight case countries (Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Papua New Guinea) to consumption, through international trade. Although few, the studied countries comprise a large share of the internationally traded volumes of the analyzed commodities: 83% of beef and 99% of soybean exports from Latin America, 97% of global palm oil exports, and roughly half of (official) tropical wood products trade. The analysis covers the period 2000-2009. We find that roughly a third of tropical deforestation and associated carbon emissions (3.9 Mha and 1.7 GtCO2) in 2009 can be attributed to our four case commodities in our eight case countries. On average a third of analyzed deforestation was embodied in agricultural exports, mainly to the EU and China. However, in all countries but Bolivia and Brazil, export markets are dominant drivers of forest clearing for our case commodities. If one excludes Brazilian beef on average 57% of deforestation attributed to our case commodities was embodied in exports. The share of emissions that was embodied in exported commodities increased between 2000 and 2009 for every country in our study except Bolivia and Malaysia.
  • Topic: Energy Policy, Environment, Natural Resources
  • Political Geography: China, Europe, Malaysia, Brazil, Argentina, Latin America, Bolivia
  • Author: Rosa C. Goodman, Martin Herold
  • Publication Date: 11-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: Tropical forests have the highest carbon density and cover more land area than forests in any other biome. They also serve a vital role as a natural buffer to climate change ―capturing 2.2–2.7 Gt of carbon per year. Unfortunately, tropical forests, mangroves, and peatlands are also subjected to the highest levels of deforestation and account for nearly all net emissions from Forestry and Other Land Use (FOLU) (1.1–1.4 Gt C / year). Net emissions from FOLU accounted for only 11% of total anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions or 14% of total carbon emissions in 2010, though these figures are somewhat misleading and do not reflect the full potential of tropical forests to mitigate climate change. First, net FOLU emissions have reduced only slightly while emissions from all other sectors have skyrocketed. Secondly, the FOLU net flux is made up of two larger fluxes —deforestation emissions (2.6–2.8 Gt C / year) minus sequestration from forest regrowth (1.2–1.7 Gt C / year). Additionally, intact tropical forests also appear to be capturing at least 1.0 Gt C/ year. Gross deforestation, therefore, accounts for over a quarter of all carbon emissions, and tropical forests have removed 22–26% of all anthropogenic carbon emissions in the 2000s. If deforestation were halted entirely, forests were allowed to regrow, and mature forests were left undisturbed, tropical forests alone could have captured 25–35% of all other anthropogenic carbon emissions. On the other hand, if climate change continues unabated, forests could turn from net sinks to net sources of carbon. Forestrelated activities are among the most economically feasible and cost-effective mitigation strategies, which are important for both short- and long-term mitigation strategies. Action is needed immediately to utilize these natural mitigation solutions, and we need coordinated and comprehensive forest-related policies for mitigation. An international mechanism such as REDD+ is essential to realize the great natural potential for tropical forests to stabilize the climate.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Energy Policy, Environment, Natural Resources, Reform
  • Political Geography: Africa, South Asia, Latin America
  • Author: Benjamin Leo
  • Publication Date: 12-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: The United States government has made repeated declarations over the last decade to align its assistance programs behind developing countries' priorities. By utilizing public attitude surveys for 42 African and Latin American countries, this paper examines how well the US has implemented this guiding principle. Building upon the Quality of Official Development Assistance Assessment (QuODA) approach, I identify what people cite most frequently as the 'most pressing problems' facing their nations and then measure the percentage of US assistance commitments that are directed towards addressing them. By focusing on public surveys over time, this analysis attempts to provide a more nuanced and targeted examination of whether US portfolios are addressing what people care the most about. As reference points, I compare US alignment trends with the two regional multilateral development banks (MDBs) – the African Development Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank. Overall, this analysis suggests that US assistance may be only modestly aligned with what people in Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America cite as their nation's most pressing problems. By comparison, the African Development Bank – which is majority-led by regional member nations – performs significantly better than the United States. Like the United States, however, the Inter-American Development Bank demonstrates a low relative level of support for people's top concerns.
  • Topic: Security, Crime, Development, Economics, Foreign Aid
  • Political Geography: Africa, United States, America, Latin America
  • Author: Liliana Rojas-Suarez, Carlos Montoro
  • Publication Date: 02-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: The financial systems in emerging market economies during the 2008–09 global financial crisis performed much better than in previous crisis episodes, albeit with significant differences across regions. For example, real credit growth in Asia and Latin America was less affected than in Central and Eastern Europe. This paper identifies the factors at both the country and the bank levels that contributed to the behavior of real credit growth in Latin America during the global financial crisis. The resilience of real credit during the crisis was highly related to policies, measures and reforms implemented in the pre-crisis period. In particular, we find that the best explanatory variables were those that gauged the economy's capacity to withstand an external financial shock. Key were balance sheet measures such as the economy's overall currency mismatches and external debt ratios (measuring either total debt or short-term debt). The quality of pre-crisis credit growth mattered as much as its rate of expansion. Credit expansions that preserved healthy balance sheet measures (the “quality” dimension) proved to be more sustainable. Variables signalling the capacity to set countercyclical monetary and fiscal policies during the crisis were also important determinants. Moreover, financial soundness characteristics of Latin American banks, such as capitalization, liquidity and bank efficiency, also played a role in explaining the dynamics of real credit during the crisis. We also found that foreign banks and banks which had expanded credit growth more before the crisis were also those that cut credit most. The methodology used in this paper includes the construction of indicators of resilience of real credit growth to adverse external shocks in a large number of emerging markets, not just in Latin America. As additional data become available, these indicators could be part of a set of analytical tools to assess how emerging market economies are preparing themselves to cope with the adverse effects of global financial turbulence on real credit growth.
  • Topic: Debt, Economics, Emerging Markets, Globalization, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Europe, Asia, Latin America
  • Author: Florencia Torche, Luis F. Lopez-Calva, Jamele Rigolini
  • Publication Date: 02-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: Middle class values have long been perceived as drivers of social cohesion and growth. In this paper we investigate the relation between class (measured by the position in the income distribution), values, and political orientations using comparable values surveys for six Latin American countries. We find that both a continuous measure of income and categorical measures of income-based class are robustly associated with values. Both income and class tend to display a similar association to values and political orientations as education, although differences persist in some important dimensions. Overall, we do not find strong evidence of any “middle class particularism”: values appear to gradually shift with income, and middle class values lay between the ones of poorer and richer classes. If any, the only peculiarity of middle class values is moderation. We also find changes in values across countries to be of much larger magnitude than the ones dictated by income, education and individual characteristics, suggesting that individual values vary primarily within bounds dictated by each society.
  • Topic: Economics, Political Economy, Social Stratification, Culture
  • Political Geography: Latin America
  • Author: Liliana Rojas-Suarez, Arturo J. Galindo, Marielle del Valle
  • Publication Date: 05-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: A number of banks in developed countries argue that the new capital requirements under Basel III are too stringent and that implementing the proposed regulation would require raising large amounts of capital, with adverse consequences on credit and the cost of finance. In contrast, many emerging market economies claim that their systems are adequately capitalized and that they have no problems with implementing the new capital requirements. This paper conducts a detailed calculation of capital held by the banks in four Latin American countries—known as the Andean countries: Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru—and assesses the potential effects of full compliance with the capital requirements under Basel III. The conclusions are positive and show that while capital would decline somewhat in these countries after they make adjustments to comply with the new definition of capital under Basel III, they would still meet the Basel III recommendations on capital requirements. More importantly, these countries would hold Tier capital to risk-weighted-asset ratios significantly above the 8.5 percent requirement under Basel III. That is, not only the quantity, but also the quality of capital is adequate in the countries under study. While encouraging, these results should not be taken as a panacea since the new regulations are only effective if coupled with appropriate risk management and supervision mechanisms to control the build-up of excessive risk-taking by banks. Further research into these areas is needed for a complete assessment of the strength of banks in the Andean countries.
  • Topic: Debt, Economics, International Trade and Finance, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: Colombia, Latin America, Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia
  • Author: Liliana Rojas-Suarez, José Luis Guasch, Veronica Gonzales
  • Publication Date: 06-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: Over the last decade, Central American countries—Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua—have made significant progress in social and economic areas. In particular, they have stabilized their economies after decades of civil war and the economic volatility that plagued the region through the 1990s. Most countries in Central America have taken important steps to improve their business climates, particularly by enhancing macroeconomic stability, improving the soundness of their financial systems, making improvements in infrastructure services and trade facilitation, reducing red tape, and simplifying their regulatory and tax frameworks. As a result, before the 2008 financial crisis, GDP per capita in Central America grew at an average rate of 3 percent per year from 2003 to 2008, which, albeit modest, was the most robust and stable period of growth the region had witnessed since the early 1990s. However, despite this achievement, Central American economies are still lagging behind the rest of Latin America and other middle-income countries by per-capita growth rates of 0.5 to 2 percentage points. Even more worrying are the levels of poverty and inequality, which show the lack of inclusiveness in their growth models. Moreover, recent developments in the region show a number of red flags that are weakening macroeconomic and democratic stability. Significant structural changes are urgently needed to secure sustained and inclusive growth.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Emerging Markets, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Latin America, Central America
  • Author: Nancy Birdsall
  • Publication Date: 08-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: The Carbon Monitoring for Action (CARMA) database provides information about the carbon dioxide emissions, electricity production, corporate ownership, and location of more than 60,000 power plants in over 200 countries. Originally launched in 2007, CARMA is provided freely to the public at www.carma.org and remains the only comprehensive data source of its kind. This paper documents the methodology underpinning CARMA v3.0, released in July, 2012. Comparison of CARMA model output with reported data highlights the general difficulty of precisely predicting annual electricity generation for a given plant and year. Estimating the rate at which a plant emits CO2 (per unit of electricity generated) generally faces fewer obstacles. Ultimately, greater disclosure of plant-specific data is needed to overcome these limitations, particularly in major emitting countries like China, Russia, and Japan. For any given plant in CARMA v3.0, it is estimated that the reported value is within 20 percent of the actual value in 85 percent of cases for CO2 intensity, 75 percent for annual CO2 emissions, and 45 percent for annual electricity generation. CARMA's prediction models are shown to offer significantly better estimates than more naïve approaches to estimating plant-specific performance.
  • Topic: Democratization, Economics, Poverty, Social Stratification
  • Political Geography: Russia, Japan, China, America, Latin America
  • Author: Pedro L. Rodríguez, José R. Morales, Francisco J. Monaldi
  • Publication Date: 09-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: Venezuela is a textbook example of a resource-dependent country—between 1950 and 2008, oil generated over a trillion dollars of income for the state. Nevertheless, Venezuela currently combines an economy that is stagnant, despite high oil prices, with an increasingly authoritarian government. The authors argue that large oil rents that accrue to the state, together with a lack of formal and transparent mechanisms to facilitate citizen oversight, are a large part of the problem. They consider the nature of the fiscal contract between the Venezuelan government and its people. This has been characterized by increasing discretion of the executive; only a small share of the rents is now subject to political oversight within the framework of the budgetary system. The authors consider the case for direct distribution of rents, distinguishing it from a populist approach to transfers as effected through Venezuela's misiones. They also report on focus group discussions of the directdistribution approach and the political viability of direct transfers.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Economics, Energy Policy, Government, Oil, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Argentina, Latin America
  • Author: Nora Lustig, Luis F. Lopez-Calva, Eduardo Ortiz-Juarez
  • Publication Date: 10-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: Between 2000 and 2010, the Gini coefficient declined in 13 of 17 Latin American countries. The decline was statistically significant and robust to changes in the time interval, inequality measures, and data sources. In-depth country studies for Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico suggest two main phenomena underlie this trend: a fall in the premium to skilled labor and more progressive government transfers. The fall in the premium to skills resulted from a combination of supply, demand, and institutional factors. Their relative importance depends on the country.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Emerging Markets, Globalization, International Trade and Finance, Poverty, Social Stratification
  • Political Geography: Brazil, Argentina, Latin America, Mexico
  • Author: Nora Lustig
  • Publication Date: 11-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: We apply a standard tax-and-benefit-incidence analysis to estimate the impact on inequality and poverty of direct taxes, indirect taxes and subsidies, and social spending (cash and food transfers and in-kind transfers in education and health). The extent of inequality reduction induced by direct taxes and transfers is rather small (2 percentage points on average), especially when compared with that found in Western Europe (15 percentage points on average). What prevents Argentina, Bolivia, and Brazil from achieving similar reductions in inequality is not the lack of revenues but the fact that they spend less on cash transfers—especially transfers that are progressive in absolute terms—as a share of GDP. Indirect taxes result in that net contributors to the fiscal system start at the fourth, third, and even second decile on average, depending on the country. When in-kind transfers in education and health are added, however, the bottom six deciles are net recipients. The impact of transfers on inequality and poverty reduction could be higher if spending on direct cash transfers that are progressive in absolute terms were increased, leakages to the nonpoor reduced, and coverage of the extreme poor by direct transfer programs expanded.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Education, Health, Poverty
  • Political Geography: Brazil, Argentina, Latin America, Mexico, Peru, Bolivia
  • Author: Nancy Birdsall, Nora Lustig, Darryl McLeod
  • Publication Date: 05-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: Latin America is known to have income inequality among the highest in the world. That inequality has been invoked to explain low growth, poor education, macroeconomic volatility, and political instability. But new research shows that inequality in the region is falling. In this paper we summarize recent findings on inequality, present and discuss an assessment of how the type of political regime matters and why, and investigate the relationship between changes in inequality and changes in the size of the middle class in the region. We conclude with some questions about whether and how changes in income distribution and in middle-class economic power will affect the politics of distribution in the future.
  • Topic: Economics, Poverty, Social Stratification
  • Political Geography: Latin America
  • Author: Tessa Bold, Mwangi Kimenyi, Germano Mwabu, Justin Sandefur
  • Publication Date: 12-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: Existing studies from the United States, Latin America, and Asia provide scant evidence that private schools dramatically improve academic performance relative to public schools. Using data from Kenya—a poor country with weak public institutions—we find a large effect of private schooling on test scores, equivalent to one full standard deviation. This finding is robust to endogenous sorting of more able pupils into private schools. The magnitude of the effect dwarfs the impact of any rigorously tested intervention to raise performance within public schools. Furthermore, nearly two thirds of private schools operate at lower cost than the median government school.
  • Topic: Development, Education, Government, Poverty
  • Political Geography: Kenya, United States, Asia, Latin America
  • Author: Todd Moss, Sarah Jane Staats, Julia Barmeier
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: The international financial institutions dramatically increased their lending in 2008–09 to help developing countries cope with the global financial crisis and support economic recovery. Today, these organizations are seeking billions of dollars in new funding. The IMF, which only a few years ago was losing clients and shedding staff, expanded by $750 billion in 2009. The World Bank and the four regional development banks for Africa, Asia, Europe, and Latin America have asked to increase their capital base by 30 to 200 percent. A general capital increase (GCI) for these development banks is an unusual request. A simultaneous GCI request is a oncein- a-generation occurrence.
  • Topic: Development, Foreign Aid, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Africa, Asia, Latin America, Ethiopia
  • Author: Oeindrila Dube, Suresh Naidu
  • Publication Date: 01-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: Does foreign military assistance strengthen or further weaken fragile states facing internal conflict? We address this question by estimating how U.S. military aid affects violence and electoral participation in Colombia. We exploit the allocation of U.S. military aid to Colombian military bases, and compare how aid affects municipalities with and without bases. Using detailed political violence data, we find that U.S. military aid leads to differential increases in attacks by paramilitaries (who collude with the military), but has no effect on guerilla attacks. Aid increases also result in more paramilitary (but not guerrilla) homicides during election years. Moreover, when military aid rises, voter turnout falls more in base municipalities, especially those that are politically contested.
  • Topic: Arms Control and Proliferation, Democratization, Foreign Aid
  • Political Geography: United States, Colombia, Latin America
  • Author: Liliana Rojas-Suarez, Arturo J. Galindo, Alejandro Izquierdo
  • Publication Date: 02-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: This paper explores the impact of international financial integration on credit markets in Latin America. Using a cross-country dataset covering 17 Latin American countries between 1996 and 2008, the authors find that financial integration amplifies the impact of international financial shocks on aggregate credit and interestrate fluctuations. Despite this pernicious effect, the net impact of integration on deepening credit markets is positive and dominates for the large majority of states of nature. The paper also uses a detailed bank-level dataset covering more than 500 banks in Latin America for a similar time period to explore the role of financial integration—captured through the participation of foreign banks—in propagating external shocks. The authors find that interest rates charged and loans supplied by foreign-owned banks respond more to external financial shocks than those supplied by domestically owned banks. However, this result does not hold for all foreign banks: Spanish banks in the sample behave more like domestic banks and do not amplify the impact of foreign shocks on credit and interest rates. Important policy recommendations to avoid foreign banks' amplification of external financial shocks include the establishment of ring-fencing mechanisms, the development of early-warning systems, and the incorporation for agreements between domestic and foreign supervisors.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets
  • Political Geography: Latin America, Spain
  • Author: Liliana Rojas-Suarez
  • Publication Date: 01-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: The international financial crisis of 2008–09 exposed the strengths and weaknesses of the current paradigm of development in Latin America, a paradigm based on liberalized capital accounts and significantly improved macroeconomic conditions. This paper presents lessons derived from the crisis, not only for the region itself, but also for other developing countries that might seek economic growth in the context of greater integration to the international capital markets. Some of the lessons are not new but have been reinforced by the crisis, such as Latin America's imperative need for export diversification (not only in products but in partners). Other lessons break with longstanding myths about the region, such as its inability to undertake counter-cyclical policies—at least on the monetary side. Yet other lessons reflect new developments in the current growth paradigm, such as a renewed assessment of (1) the relative roles of foreign and domestic banks in shielding the financial system against external shocks and (2) the potential costs of adopting blanket international financial regulations that do not account for a country's degree of development. Taken together, the lessons in this paper bring a new sense of optimism for growth in Latin America.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Latin America
  • Author: Nancy Birdsall, Augusto de la Torre, Felipe Valencia Caicedo
  • Publication Date: 05-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: In this paper we analyze the Washington Consensus, which at its original formulation reflected views not only from Washington but also from Latin America. We trace the life of the Consensus from a Latin American perspective in terms of evolving economic development paradigms. We document the extensive implementation of Consensus-style reforms in the region as well as the mismatch between reformers' expectations and actual outcomes, in terms of growth, poverty reduction, and inequality. We then present an assessment of what went wrong with the Washington Consensus-style reform agenda, using a taxonomy of views that put the blame, alternatively, on (i) shortfalls in the implementation of reforms combined with impatience regarding their expected effects; (ii) fundamental flaws—in either the design, sequencing, or basic premises of the reform agenda; and (iii) incompleteness of the agenda that left out crucial reform needs, such as volatility, technological innovation, institutional change and inequality.
  • Topic: Economics
  • Political Geography: Washington, Latin America
  • Author: Todd Moss, Sarah Jane Staats, Julia Barmeier
  • Publication Date: 06-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: The international financial institutions dramatically increased their lending in 2008–09 to help developing countries cope with the global financial crisis and support economic recovery. Today, these organizations are seeking billions of dollars in new funding. The IMF, which only a few years ago was losing clients and shedding staff, expanded by $750 billion last year. The World Bank and the four regional development banks for Africa, Asia, Europe, and Latin America are asking to increase their capital base by 30 to 200 percent. A general capital increase (GCI) for these development banks is an unusual request. A simultaneous GCI request is a once-in-a-generation occurrence.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Monetary Fund, Financial Crisis, World Bank
  • Political Geography: Africa, Europe, Asia, Latin America
  • Author: Tom Slayton
  • Publication Date: 03-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: The world rice market was aflame last spring and for several months it looked as if the trading edifice that had exhibited such resilience over the last two decades was going to burn to the ground. World prices trebled within less than four months and reached a 30- year inflation-adjusted high. Many market observers thought the previous record set in 1974 would soon be toast. The fire was man-made, not the result of natural developments. While the governments in India, Vietnam, and the Philippines did not to set the world market on fire, that was the unintended result of their actions which threatened both innocent bystanders (low-income rice importers as far away as Africa and Latin America) and, ultimately, poor rice consumers at home. This paper describes what sparked the fire and the accelerants that made a bad situation nearly catastrophic. Fortuitously, when the flames were raging at peak intensity, rain clouds appeared, the winds [market psychology] shifted, and conditions on the ground improved, allowing the fire to die down. It remains to be seen, however, if the trading edifice has been seriously undermined by the actions of decision makers in several key Asian rice exporting and importing countries. In describing the cascading negative effects of these seemingly rational domestic policies, this paper aims to help policy makers in the rice exporting and importing nations to avoid a repeat of the disastrous price spike of 2008.
  • Topic: Agriculture, Economics, Health, Humanitarian Aid, Markets, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Africa, India, Asia, Latin America
  • Author: Nancy Birdsall, Gunilla Pettersson, Jere R. Behrman
  • Publication Date: 03-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: Latin America is characterized by high and persistent schooling, land, and income inequalities and extreme income concentration. In a highly unequal setting, powerful interests are more likely to dominate politics, pushing for policies that protect privileges rather than foster competition and growth. As a result, changes in policies that political elites resist may be postponed in high-inequality countries to the detriment of overall economic performance.
  • Topic: Economics, Education, Globalization, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Latin America
  • Author: Benjamin Leo
  • Publication Date: 11-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: Four years ago, the G-7 pushed through an unprecedented initiative forcing the international financial institutions to cancel 100 percent of their outstanding debt claims on the world's poorest countries. Through the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative (MDRI), these heavily indebted poor countries (HIPCs) stand to receive up to $60 billion in debt relief over time. Moreover, the World Bank, African Development Bank, and IMF shareholders approved a new debt sustainability framework to govern future lending decisions and prevent the need for yet another round of systemic debt relief. All parties emerged from these landmark agreements confident that the dragon of unsustainable debt finally had been slain. However, several unsettling trends raise serious questions about the finality of these actions. First, World Bank and AfDB lending disbursement volumes to these very same HIPC countries remain very high, and nearly the same as compared to pre-MDRI. Emergency IMF lending in response to the global economic crisis has compounded the situation. Second, IMF and World Bank growth projections for HIPCs remain overly rosy compared to actual and historical performance. Our new dataset of IMF growth projections suggests a structural optimism of at least one percentage point per year. Third, HIPCs continue to experience significant volatility in country performance measures that has a direct impact on their ability to carry debt sustainably. Taken together, these findings suggest that donor countries should re-examine the issue of debt sustainability in low-income countries and the system for determining the appropriate grant/loan mix. The upcoming IDA and AfDF replenishment negotiations present a timely opportunity to do so. Absent assertive and corrective action, the international community may be faced with the prospect of a HIPC IV agreement in the not too distant future.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Foreign Aid
  • Political Geography: Latin America
  • Author: Liliana Rojas-Suarez
  • Publication Date: 09-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: Before the global economic crisis began in 2008, all countries in Latin America, long known as the world's most economically and financially volatile region, had experienced five consecutive years of economic growth, a feat that had not been achieved since the 1970s. Yet despite this growth, Latin America's incomeper-capita gap relative to high-income countries and other emerging-market economies widened, and poverty remained stubbornly high. Latin America, in short, suffered from growing pains even when things were going reasonably well.
  • Topic: Economics, Emerging Markets
  • Political Geography: Brazil, Colombia, Latin America, Mexico, Costa Rica, Peru
  • Author: Amanda Glassman, Jessica Todd, Marie Gaarder
  • Publication Date: 04-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: In order to support poor families in the developing world to seek and use health care, a multi-pronged strategy is needed on both the supply and the demand side of health care. A demand-side program called Conditional Cash Transfer s (CCTs) strives to reduce poverty and also increase food consumption, school attendance, and use of preventive health care. Since 1997, seven countries in Latin America have implemented and evaluated CCT programs with health and nutrition components. The core of the program is based on encouraging poor mothers to seek preventive health services and attend health education talks by providing a cash in centive for their healthy behavior (with healthy behavior representing performance). Evaluations of these programs measured outputs in the utilization of services; health knowledge, attitudes, and practice; food consumption; the supply and quality of services; as well as outcomes in vaccination rates; nutritional status; morbidity; mortality; and fertility.
  • Topic: Education, Health, Poverty
  • Political Geography: South America, Latin America, Central America, Caribbean
  • Author: Liliana Rojas-Suarez
  • Publication Date: 06-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: The depth of and access to financial services provided by banks throughout Latin America are extremely low in spite of its recognized importance for economic activity, employment and poverty alleviation. Low financial depth and access hurts the poor the most and is due to a variety of obstacles that are presented in this paper in four categories, along with recommendations to overcome them. The first category groups socio-economic obstacles that undercut the demand for financial services of large segments of the population. The second category identifies problems in the operations of the banking sector that impedes the adequate provision of financial services to households and firms. The third category captures institutional deficiencies, with emphasis on the quality of the legal framework and the governability of the countries in the region. The fourth category identifies regulations that tend to distort the provision of banking services. Recommendations to confront these obstacles include innovative proposals that take into consideration the political constraints facing individual countries. Some of the policy recommendations include: public-private partnerships to improve financial literacy, the creation of juries specialized in commercial activities to support the rights of borrowers and creditors, and the approval of regulation to allow widespread usage of technological innovations to permit low-income families and small firms to gain access to financial services.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, International Trade and Finance, Poverty
  • Political Geography: Latin America
  • Author: Nancy Birdsall
  • Publication Date: 10-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: In this working paper I define inclusive growth as growth conducive to increasing the size and economic command of the middle class. I suggest a definition of the middle class based on absolute and relative measures of country-based income distributions, and present evidence of change in the size of the “middle class” for selected developing countries. I then review how macroeconomic policies shape the environment and incentives for inclusive growth, focusing on three areas: fiscal discipline, the more rule-based the better; a fair tax and redistribution system; and a business friendly exchange rate.
  • Topic: Education, Poverty
  • Political Geography: South America, Latin America, Central America
  • Author: Liliana Rojas-Suarez
  • Publication Date: 06-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: The depth of and access to financial services provided by banks throughout Latin America are extremely low in spite of its recognized importance for economic activity, employment and poverty alleviation. Low financial depth and access hurts the poor the most and is due to a variety of obstacles that are presented in this paper in four categories, along with recommendations to overcome them. The first category groups socio-economic obstacles that undercut the demand for financial services of large segments of the population. The second category identifies problems in the operations of the banking sector that impedes the adequate provision of financial services to households and firms. The third category captures institutional deficiencies, with emphasis on the quality of the legal framework and the governability of the countries in the region. The fourth category identifies regulations that tend to distort the provision of banking services. Recommendations to confront these obstacles include innovative proposals that take into consideration the political constraints facing individual countries. Some of the policy recommendations include: public-private partnerships to improve financial literacy, the creation of juries specialized in commercial activities to support the rights of borrowers and creditors, and the approval of regulation to allow widespread usage of technological innovations to permit low-income families and small firms to gain access to financial services.
  • Topic: Political Economy, Third World
  • Political Geography: Latin America
  • Author: Ferdinando Regalía, Leslie Castro
  • Publication Date: 04-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: Nicaragua's Red de Protección Social (RPS) is one of the first conditional cash transfer (CCT) programs implemented in a low-income country. Demand-side incentives, in the form of monetary transfers, are provided to poor households on condition that their children attend school and visit preventive health care providers. The design of the program is unique among CCT programs because these demand-side incentives are complemented by supply-side incentives aimed at improving the provision of health care. Health care providers are paid on the basis of their performance against predetermined targets. Both private and nonprofit health care providers contracted by the government extend the coverage of services to previously underserved areas.
  • Topic: Development, Health, Humanitarian Aid
  • Political Geography: Latin America
  • Author: Amanda Glassman, Jessica Todd, Marie Gaarder
  • Publication Date: 04-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: In order to support poor families in the developing world to seek and use health care, a multi-pronged strategy is needed on both the supply and the demand side of health care. A demand-side program called Conditional Cash Transfers (CCTs) strives to reduce poverty and also increase food consumption, school attendance, and use of preventive health care. Since 1997, seven countries in Latin America have implemented and evaluated CCT programs with health and nutrition components. The core of the program is based on encouraging poor mothers to seek preventive health services and attend health education talks by providing a cash incentive for their healthy behavior (with healthy behavior representing performance). Evaluations of these programs measured outputs in the utilization of services; health knowledge, attitudes, and practice; food consumption; the supply and quality of services; as well as outcomes in vaccination rates; nutritional status; morbidity; mortality; and fertility.
  • Topic: Development, Health, Humanitarian Aid
  • Political Geography: Latin America
  • Author: John Nellis
  • Publication Date: 03-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: In the last 25 years many thousands of formerly state-owned and operated firms have been privatized in developing and transition countries, generating over $400 billion (US) in sales proceeds. In addition, thousands of firms have been transferred by privatization processes in which no money was raised (though a surprising number of state-owned firms remain in these regions). The vast majority of economic studies praise privatization's positive impact at the level of the firm, as well as its positive macroeconomic and welfare contributions. Moreover, contrary to popular conception, privatization has not contributed to maldistribution of income or increased poverty——at least in the best-studied Latin American cases. In sum, the technical picture is generally positive. Nonetheless, public opinion in the less developed world is generally suspicious of, and often hostile to, privatization. A good part of the problem is that privatization has proven harder to launch, and is more likely to produce errant results, in low-income, institutionally weak states, particularly in the most important infrastructure sectors. Privatization is hard to sell politically; it has become a lightning rod and handy scapegoat for all discontent related to liberalization and globalization. What is needed are reform mechanisms that give incentives and comfort to reputable private investors, that create and sustain the policy and regulatory institutions that make governments competent and honest partners with the private operators, while at the same time protecting consumers, particularly the most disadvantaged, from abuse.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Government, Privatization
  • Political Geography: Latin America
  • Author: John Nellis
  • Publication Date: 03-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: In the last 25 years many thousands of formerly state-owned and operated firms have been privatized in developing and transition countries, generating over $400 billion (US) in sales proceeds. In addition, thousands of firms have been transferred by privatization processes in which no money was raised (though a surprising number of state-owned firms remain in these regions). The vast majority of economic studies praise privatization's positive impact at the level of the firm, as well as its positive macroeconomic and welfare contributions. Moreover, contrary to popular conception, privatization has not contributed to maldistribution of income or increased poverty——at least in the best-studied Latin American cases. In sum, the technical picture is generally positive. Nonetheless, public opinion in the less developed world is generally suspicious of, and often hostile to, privatization. A good part of the problem is that privatization has proven harder to launch, and is more likely to produce errant results, in low-income, institutionally weak states, particularly in the most important infrastructure sectors. Privatization is hard to sell politically; it has become a lightning rod and handy scapegoat for all discontent related to liberalization and globalization. What is needed are reform mechanisms that give incentives and comfort to reputable private investors, that create and sustain the policy and regulatory institutions that make governments competent and honest partners with the private operators, while at the same time protecting consumers, particularly the most disadvantaged, from abuse.</p
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Political Economy, Privatization
  • Political Geography: Latin America