Western Hemisphere > Chile

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International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.

Abstract

Recent developments in the Western Hemisphere—that is, the United States/Canada and Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC)—have been dominated by the impact of two distinct global shocks: the COVID-19 pandemic and then the Russian invasion of Ukraine. A third shock—the tightening of financial conditions—is now shaping the outlook. After contracting sharply in 2020, most of the Western Hemisphere’ economies recovered strongly in 2021 and early 2022, helped by the global recovery, the normalization of service sectors, and booming commodity prices. However, inflation pressures built up with pandemic-related disruptions, expansionary policies, rebounding demand, and the impact of the war in Ukraine on energy and food prices. The swift response of LAC’s monetary authorities to rising inflation—well ahead of other economies—helped contain price pressures and keep long-term inflation expectations anchored, but inflation remains high. Amid global monetary and financial tightening, and the ensuing slowdown in global growth and softening of commodity prices, activity is expected to decelerate throughout the Western Hemisphere in late 2022 and 2023, while inflation pressures are expected to recede gradually. Downside risks dominate the outlook and stem from tighter financial conditions, a more pronounced global slowdown, and entrenched inflation. For LAC, a sharp fall in commodity prices and social unrest are important risks. With inflation yet to abate and most economies still operating at or near potential, monetary policy should avoid easing prematurely and must stay the course. Clear communication of policy intentions will be key to reducing uncertainty and keeping inflation expectations anchored. Fiscal support deployed to mitigate the impact of inflation on the most vulnerable should be accompanied by compensating measures, where fiscal space does not exist, but also support monetary authorities’ efforts to tame inflation. Given rising financing costs, strengthening fiscal frameworks and advancing with inclusive fiscal consolidation—that protects key social objectives—will be essential to credibly putting public debt on a firm downward path while ensuring social stability. Boosting LAC’s medium-term growth requires raising productivity and good-quality public and private investment. Supply-side policies should focus on strengthening human capital, simplifying and modernizing labor regulations, and lifting barriers to firm entry and exit.

International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.
After an impressive recovery from the fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Chilean economy is confronting an acute deterioration of the external environment. Downside risks have materialized, including a tightening of global financial conditions, a slowdown in global growth, and a substantial drop in Chile’s terms of trade. Domestic economic policies are appropriately being recalibrated to mitigate risks and preserve macroeconomic stability, while supporting vulnerable groups. The authorities will continue leveraging on Chile’s very strong fundamentals and policy frameworks to implement an ambitious reform agenda in a challenging external environment.
International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.
The Chilean economy has rapidly recovered from the fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic, thanks to an impressive vaccination campaign and effective policy support. The authorities will continue leveraging on Chile’s very strong fundamentals and policy frameworks to safeguard the recovery, preserve macroeconomic stability, and boost inclusive and green growth.
Matteo Ruzzante and Nelson Sobrinho
This paper investigates the dynamic impact of natural resource discoveries on government debt sustainability. We use a ‘natural experiment’ framework in which the timing of discoveries is treated as an exogenous source of within-country variation. We combine data on government debt, fiscal stress and debt distress episodes on a large panel of countries over 1970-2012, with a global repository of giant oil, gas, and mineral discoveries. We find strong and robust evidence of a ‘fiscal presource curse’, i.e., natural resources can jeopardize fiscal sustainability even before ‘the first drop of oil is pumped’. Specifically, we find that giant discoveries, mostly of oil and gas, lead to permanently higher government debt and, eventually, debt distress episodes, specially in countries with weaker political institutions and governance. This evidence suggest that the curse can be mitigated and even prevented by pursuing prudent fiscal policies and borrowing strategies, strengthening fiscal governance, and implementing transparent and robust fiscal frameworks for resource management.
Francesca G Caselli, Matilde Faralli, Paolo Manasse, and Ugo Panizza
This paper studies whether countries benefit from servicing their debts during times of widespread sovereign defaults. Colombia is typically regarded as the only large Latin American country that did not default in the 1980s. Using archival research and formal econometric estimates of Colombia's probability of default, we show that in the early 1980s Colombia's fundamentals were not significantly different from those of the Latin American countries that defaulted on their debts. We also document that the different path chosen by Colombia was due to the authorities' belief that maintaining a good reputation in the international capital market would have substantial long-term payoffs. We show that the case of Colombia is more complex than what it is commonly assumed. Although Colombia had to re-profile its debts, high-level political support from the US allowed Colombia do to so outside the standard framework of an IMF program. Our counterfactual analysis shows that in the short to medium run, Colombia benefitted from avoiding an explicit default. Specifically, we find that GDP growth in the 1980s was higher than that of a counterfactual in which Colombia behaved like its neighboring countries. We also test whether Colombia's behavior in the 1980s led to long-term reputational benefits. Using an event study based on a large sudden stop, we find no evidence for such long-lasting reputational gains.
Metodij Hadzi-Vaskov, Mr. Luca A Ricci, Alejandro M. Werner, and Rene Zamarripa
Do governments in Latin America tend to be optimistic when preparing budgetary projections? We address this question by constructing a novel dataset of the authorities’ fiscal forecasts in six Latin American economies using data from annual budget documents over the period 2000-2018. In turn, we compare such forecasts with the outturns reported in the corresponding budget documents of the following years to understand the evolution of fiscal forecast errors. Our findings suggest that: (i) for most countries, there is no general optimistic bias in the forecasts for the fiscal balance-to-GDP ratio (though there may be for the components); (ii) fiscal forecasts have improved for some countries over time, albeit they have worsened for others; (iii) in terms of drivers, we show that forecast errors for the fiscal balance-to-GDP ratio are positively correlated with GDP growth and terms of trade changes and negatively with GDP deflator surprises; (iv) forecast errors for public debt-to-GDP ratios are negatively associated with surprises to GDP growth; (v) lastly, budget balance rules seem to help contain the size of the fiscal forecast errors.