International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.
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.
This Note prepared for the G20 Infrastructure Working Group summarizes the main finding of the IMF flagships regarding the role of environmentally sustainable investment for the recovery. It emphasizes that environmentally sustainable investment is an important enabler for a resilient greener, and inclusive recovery—it creates jobs, spurs economic growth, addresses climate change, and improves the quality of life. It can also stimulate much needed private sector greener and resilient investment.
Frederic Lambert, Mr. Andrea Pescatori, and Mr. Frederik G Toscani
Labor market informality is a pervasive feature of most developing economies. Motivated by the empirical regularity that the labor informality rate falls with GDP per capita, both at business cycle frequency and in a cross-section of countries, and that the Okun's coefficient falls with the level of labor informality, we build a small open-economy dynamic stochastic general equilibrium model with two sectors, formal and informal, which can replicate these key stylized facts. The model is calibrated to Colombia. The results show that labor market and tax reforms play an important role in changing the informality rate but also caution against over-optimism - with low GDP per capita, informality will always be relatively high as there is insufficient demand for formal goods. Quantitatively we find that higher productivity in the formal sector is key in explaining the difference between Colombia and countries with significantly lower informality. We use the model to study how labor informality and labor market frictions mediate the cyclical response of the economy to shocks, including commodity price shocks which are particularly relevant in Latin America. Informality is shown to play an important role as a shock absorber with the informal-formal margin limiting movements in the employed-unemployed margin.