Many Caribbean financial systems are relatively well developed for their size but benefits are concentrated in a small part of the population. In several large countries, the financial development levels are below what is warranted by that country’s own macroeconomic fundamentals. SMEs, in particular, remain severely credit constrained, and data to inform better analysis remains scarce. Using available data, this paper takes stock of the current state of financial development and inclusion in the Caribbean region and, based on a quantitative general equilibrium model, examines potential trade-offs between growth, inequality, and financial stability—all critical considerations when policies are designed. A case study for Jamaica is examined in detail.
International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.
This paper reports about current mainstream growth projections for the United States and the European Union over the medium term represent a marked slowdown from growth rates in the decades prior to the global financial crisis. Slower growth in Europe and the United States has mixed implications for growth prospects in developing economies. Most obviously, on the negative side, it means less demand for these countries’ exports, so models of development based on export-led growth may need to be rethought. In contrast, for Western Europe the narrative is about catch-up growth rather than the rate of cutting-edge technological progress. From the middle of the 20th century to the recent global crisis, this experience comprised three distinct phases. European medium-term growth prospects depend both on how fast productivity grows in the United States and whether catch-up growth can resume after a long hiatus. Economic historians see social capability as a key determinant of success or failure in catch-up growth.
Koffie Ben Nassar, Mr. Joel Chiedu Okwuokei, Mike Li, Timothy Robinson, and Mr. Saji Thomas
Weighed down by population aging, slow economic growth, and high unemployment, National Insurance Schemes in the Caribbean are projected to run substantial deficits and deplete their assets in the next decades, raising the prospects of government intervention. With the region highly indebted, this paper quantifies the impact of three parametric reforms—freezing pension benefits for two years, raising the retirement age and increasing the contribution rate by one percentage point—that, if implemented, would put the pension schemes on a stronger financial footing. While the appropriate combination of reforms necessary to eliminate the actuarial deficits varies depending on each country’s circumstances, most countries need to undertake reforms now or risk even higher taxes, lower growth and unsustainable debt dynamics.
International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.
This paper reviews the historical background of fuel subsidies in Trinidad and Tobago, discusses their fiscal impact and the inflationary impact of subsidy reform, summarizes the regressive distribution of subsidy benefits, focuses on the negative externalities caused by fuel subsidies and the environmental and traffic benefits of phasing them out, and discusses key factors contributing to successful reforms. Fuel subsidies in Trinidad and Tobago, established in 1974, increased dramatically owing to rising global crude oil price in the past few years and led to a growing debate on the costs and benefits of subsidy reform. Fuel subsidies have significantly contributed to the country’s procyclical fiscal stance.