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.
This paper studies the impact of natural resource extraction in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) from a number of angles. First, we exploit a novel dataset on the universe of giant oil and gas discoveries in the region to trace out the cyclical response of macroeconomic variables to discoveries over the short- and medium-run. Second, we use non-stationary panel data techniques to look at the long-run (trend) relationship between GDP per capita and the value of oil and gas production—our results imply that the recent fall in prices could depress GDP per capita by several percentage points. Last, we use Bolivia, which discovered huge gas reserves in the late 1990s, as a case study to apply the cross-country results and to study the impact of discoveries at the subnational level.
Dyna Heng, Anna Ivanova, Rodrigo Mariscal, Ms. Uma Ramakrishnan, and Joyce Wong
This paper examines the state of financial development in the Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) region as well as potential growth and stability implications from further development. The analysis suggests that access to financial institutions has expanded notably in the past decade, and the region compares favorably with other emerging market regions on this dimension. The region, however, continues to lag behind peers on broader financial development, especially with respect to markets, though there is substantial heterogeneity across countries. Financial systems in many LAC countries are also underdeveloped relative to their macroeconomic fundamentals. Further financial development could convey net benefits to the region, provided there is adequate regulatory oversight to prevent excesses.
This paper seeks to determine the effects that natural disasters have on per capita GDP and on the debt to GDP ratio in the Caribbean. Two types of natural disasters are studied –storms and floods– given their prevalence in the region, while considering the effects of both moderate and severe disasters. I use a vector autoregressive model with exogenous natural disasters shocks, in a panel of 12 Caribbean countries over a period of 40 years. The results show that both storms and floods have a negative effect on growth, and that debt increases with floods but not with storms. However, in a subsample I find that storms significantly increase debt in the short and long run. I also find weak evidence that debt relief contributes to ease the negative effects of storms on debt.
Ms. Nita Thacker, Mr. Sebastian Acevedo Mejia, and Mr. Roberto Perrelli
After earlier success, growth performance in most Caribbean countries has been disappointing since the early 1990s. With slower growth, output has fallen behind that of relevant comparator countries. This paper analyzes the growth experience of the Caribbean countries from a cross country perspective. Three findings stand out. First, the slowdown in growth is explained more by a decline in productivity rather than a lack of investment. Second, tourism has been a significant contributor to higher growth (through both capital accumulation and productivity) and lower output volatility, and in many countries there is scope for further expansion of this sector. Third, the small size and the fact that most of these countries are islands have limited growth. Policies aimed at improving productivity, further development of the tourism sector, and regional integration could pay dividends in terms of higher growth in the region.
This paper seeks to document key characteristics of small island states in the Pacific. It restricts itself to a limited number of indicators which are macro-orientated - population, fertility of land, ability to tap into economies of scale, income, and geographic isolation. It leaves aside equally important but more micro-orientated variables and development indicators. We show that small island states in the Pacific are different from countries in other regional groupings in that they are extremely isolated and have limited scope to tap economies of scale due to small populations. They often have little arable land. There is empirical evidence to suggest that these factors are related to income growth.
This paper investigates the channels through which debt affects growth, specifically whether debt affects growth through factor accumulation or total factor productivity growth. It also tests for the presence of nonlinearities in the effects of debt on the different sources of growth. We use a large panel dataset of 61 developing countries over the period 1969-98. Results indicate that the negative impact of high debt on growth operates both through a strong negative effect on physical capital accumulation and on total factor productivity growth. On average, for high-debt countries, doubling debt will reduce output growth by about 1 percentage point and reduce both per capita physical capital and total factor productivity growth by somewhat less than that. In terms of the contributions to growth, approximately one-third of the effect of debt on growth occurs via physical capital accumulation and two-thirds via total factor productivity growth. The results are generally robust to the use of alternative estimators to control (to different extents) for biases associated with unobserved country-specific effects and the endogeneity of several regressors, particularly the debt variables. In particular, the results are shown to be compatible with a simultaneous significant effect of growth on debt ratios, as suggested by Easterly (2001).
In the growth literature, evidence on income convergence is mixed. In the development literature, health and education indicators are also often used. This study examines whether health and education levels are converging across countries and calculates their convergence speed, using data from 100 countries during 1970–96. A 3SLS procedure is used in a joint analysis of human capital convergence. The results confirm that investments in education and health are closely linked. We find unconditional convergence for life expectancy and infant survival, and enrollment rates, on average and by gender; and conditional convergence for all human capital indicators, including class size.