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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.
Aleksandra Babii, Ms. Alina Carare, Dmitry Vasilyev, and Mr. Yorbol Yakhshilikov
Traditional models relying on standard variables like the U.S. Hispanic unemployment rate fared well in explaining remittances to CAPDR and Mexico during the pre-pandemic period. However, they fail to predict the sustained growth in remittances since June 2020, including the significant increase in the average amount remitted. Using data from over 300 remittances corridors (from 23 U.S. states to 14 Salvadoran departments), we find that this increase is primarily explained by the dynamics of U.S. states real wages, as well as more temporary factors like U.S. unemployment relief (including the extraordinary pandemic support), U.S. states mobility, and COVID-19 infections at home. The paper also analyses what role the change in the modes of transmission of remittances, additional U.S. fiscal stimulus and U.S. labor market developments, especially in the sectors were CAPDR and Mexican migrants preponderantly work, play in explaining aggregate remittances growth.
Patrick Petit, Mario Mansour, and Mr. Philippe Wingender
Fighting the obesity epidemic has so far proven a difficult challenge, given the diversity of natural and processed foods, the complexity of food supply chains, and the fact that targeting excessive caloric consumption is far trickier than reducing overall consumption (as for tobacco). Nevertheless, efforts to curb caloric intake are gearing up and the experience from tobacco control has drawn much attention on a potential role for excise taxes in fighting obesity. Many related questions have therefore been raised as part of the IMF’s capacity development work: Should excises on unhealthy food be used to fight obesity? If so, under what conditions? What are the product and market characteristics that would help identify the relevant tax bases and the rates at which to tax them? While acknowledging that the scientific evidence keeps evolving, this note summarizes the ongoing debate and practice on food excises and on their potential role as a policy tool to fight the obesity epidemic, with a view to assist policymakers in deciding whether to go forward, and if so, how.How to Apply Excise Taxes to Fight Obesity
International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.

Abstract

An economic recovery is underway in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) but the pandemic still casts shadows on much of the region. The recovery was robust in the first quarter of 2021 but lost momentum in some countries in the second quarter, reflecting the rebound in COVID-19 cases. Real GDP is projected to grow by 6.3 percent in 2021, followed by a more moderate growth of 3 percent in 2022, but would not catch up with pre-pandemic trends in the medium term as persistent weakness in labor markets raises risks of scarring. Broadly favorable external conditions, high commodity prices, and pent-up demand support short-term growth, while monetary and fiscal policy reversals work in the other direction. Risks to the outlook are tilted downward. Main downside risks are the emergence of more transmissible and deadlier COVID-19 variants, tightening of global financial conditions, sovereign debt rollover risks, and social unrest as a year with heavy election schedule looms. Fiscal policy should allocate sufficient resources for health spending, including vaccination, and continue to support households and firms in a more targeted fashion while the pandemic persists, backed by credible assurances of medium-term debt sustainability to maintain access to finance. Monetary policy has started to address inflationary pressures but should continue to support economic activity insofar as the dynamics of inflation expectations permit. If rising inflation threatens to de-anchor inflation expectations, central banks should tighten monetary policy to signal a commitment to inflation targets and avoid persistent increases in inflation. Preemptive and decisive action should be accompanied with clear and transparent communication. Financial policy should shift from blanket support to targeted support of viable firms, to ensure that necessary labor and capital reallocations are not hindered. Supply-side policies should foster inclusive growth, including through progressive and growth-friendly tax reforms and measures to intensify climate change adaptation and mitigation.

Mrs. Swarnali A Hannan, Juan Pablo Cuesta Aguirre, and David Bartolini
Poverty in Mexico was high before the COVID-19 pandemic and has been exacerbated by the pandemic, with significant variation across states. Education losses from the pandemic are likely to be large and worsen pre-existing disparities; unless mitigated soon, they could contribute to heightened scarring over the medium term. Using state-level and cross-country comparisons, this paper reviews key social programs as well as priorities in education and health. It finds that higher spending and improved design of social programs (e.g., better targeting) would reduce socioeconomic gaps, mitigate scarring risks, and foster inclusive growth.
Mr. Emre Balibek, Ian Storkey, and Hakan Yavuz
Cash and debt management operations are part of the “transactional” functions of public financial management. It is critical that these functions are resilient to external disruptions, ranging from information and communication technology (ICT) system outages to natural disasters. This technical manual aims to provide guidance on the steps that government cash and debt management units can follow to develop and implement a practical business continuity plan that economizes the resources used. It also discusses the evolving nature of business disruption risks faced by cash and debt management over the last decade, including the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as risk mitigation solutions that have emerged.
Jorge Alvarez and Carlo Pizzinelli
This paper documents the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and associated lockdowns on the Colombian labor market using household micro-data. About a quarter of employment was temporarily disrupted at the height of the first pandemic-induced lockdown in 2020. Women, the young, and the less educated were the most affected groups. Since then, a remarkable recovery, led by a rebound in informal employment, has taken place. By adjusting both employment levels and hours faster, the informal sector acted as an important margin of adjustment, particularly in those industries most affected by the first lockdown. The informal sector also appears to have played a role in decreasing the sensitivity of aggregate employment to more recent lockdowns in 2021, as the economy has learned to cope with pandemic restrictions, although the possibility of higher informality rates becoming embedded remains an substantial downside risk for long-term productivity.