Western Hemisphere > Venezuela

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International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines is recovering from the pandemic and 2021 volcanic eruptions. Despite the authorities’ strong efforts to contain deficits, critical fiscal responses to these shocks pushed up public debt, which—while assessed as sustainable—remains at high risk of distress should future shocks materialize. The economy is projected to grow by 5 percent in 2022, supported by large-scale investment projects and recoveries in tourism and agriculture. Surging commodity prices, fueled by Russia’s war in Ukraine, are expected to raise inflation sharply to 5.8 percent in 2022, adding to fiscal and external pressures and weighing on the recovery. So far, the financial system has weathered the shocks relatively well. The outlook is subject to significant downside risks primarily from an abrupt slowdown in trading partners’ growth, potential delays in investment projects including due to supply chain disruptions, and the ever-present threat of frequent natural disasters.
International Monetary Fund. African Dept.
The Gambia is consolidating its democratic change by successfully organizing peaceful and transparent elections. President Barrow was reelected for a second five-year term in December 2021; his party and its alliance hold half of the parliamentary seats following an election in April 2022. A fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic hit the country in late 2021-early 2022. New infection cases have dropped to almost nil recently. The vaccination rate currently stands at about 20 percent of the adult population. The Gambia is already facing significant repercussions of the war in Ukraine.
Ms. Marialuz Moreno Badia, Juliana Gamboa-Arbelaez, and Yuan Xiang
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, debt levels in emerging and developing economies have surged raising concerns about fiscal sustainability. Historically, negative interest-growth differentials in these countries have played a debt-stabilizing role. But is this enough to prevent countries from falling into debt distress? Drawing from a sample of 150 emerging and developing economies going back to the 1970s, we find that interest-growth differentials have remained relatively low, dampening debt increases in the run up to a crisis. But in the face of persistent primary deficits, debt service tends to rise abruptly—particularly in emerging markets—and a fiscal crisis ensues. There is also evidence that a large part of the debt build-up around crises stems from valuation effects associated with external debt and the materialization of contingent liabilities. These findings underscore that, though not necessarily a red-herring, low interest-growth differentials cannot fully offset the deleterious effects of large fiscal deficits, forex exposures, or hidden debts.
International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.
This 2019 Article IV Consultation with Nicaragua highlights that social unrest and its aftermath eroded confidence and caused large capital and bank deposits outflows that resulted in a prolonged output contraction. Banks cut lending, which exacerbated the downturn. Faced with sharply lower revenues and a severe tightening in available financing, including on account of sanctions, the government was forced to cut spending and adopt a procyclical tax package. The economy is projected to continue to contract in the near term as it adjusts to weaker confidence and lower external financing. The sharp contraction in credit will continue to depress investment, and the tight fiscal and external financing situation will continue to drag down medium-term growth. The key risks relate to further erosion in confidence and renewed deposit outflows. The imposition of additional sanctions by trading partners could also heighten economic stress. It is recommended to maintain a conservative fiscal stance in 2020 remains the key to maintain macroeconomic stability. Curbing expenditures on goods and services will allow increased spending on social programs, social safety nets, and public investment, which would lead to more equitable and sustainable growth.
International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.
Colombia’s recovery is gaining momentum on the back of strong domestic demand, with a wider current account deficit. As a key external shock, migration flows from Venezuela accelerated in 2018 and by end-December 1.5 million migrants were estimated to live in Colombia. Risks to global growth and financial stability are tilted to the downside and have increased somewhat relative to the last FCL approval according to the April 2019 WEO and GFSR. Given the importance of oil exports and non-resident holdings of local-currency bonds, Colombia remains exposed to lower global growth, including indirectly through lower oil prices, and a sudden reversal in investor sentiment. Colombia weathered last year’s financial and oil market volatility well, however, as evidenced by stable spreads and local currency bond yields.
International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.
This 2019 Article IV Consultation discusses Colombia’s economy that is improving drastically and is supported by very strong policy frameworks and well-executed policies. The recovery is gaining momentum and external imbalances have widened. Despite weaker-than-expected external demand, activity is expected to accelerate in 2019. Rebounding investment, continued policy support, and substantial migration from Venezuela are expected to lift growth to 3.6 percent while the current account deficit is expected to remain wide. The authorities expect the recovery to gather momentum in 2019 and inflation to remain close to target. Structural reforms are needed to boost inclusive growth and enhance external competitiveness. Addressing infrastructure gaps, strengthening governance and the rule of law, reducing informality, and enhancing customs and other trade practices are crucial. The draft National Development Plan rightly identifies key priorities and lays out a roadmap for reforms.
International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.
This Article IV Consultation highlights that following the opening of a modern international airport, signs of an economic recovery have emerged, with increased direct flights from major cities in the United States and Canada and renewed interests from foreign investors in tourism projects. The overall fiscal balance has improved over the past few years, and the debt to GDP ratio fell in 2017 for the first time since 2007. However, despite these positive developments, St. Vincent and the Grenadines faces challenges in sustaining the growth momentum over the longer-term. Like other Caribbean economies, its high exposure to natural disasters, limited land, narrow production and exports base, weak business competitiveness, and limited physical and human capital constrain potential growth. The financial system remains broadly stable but has vulnerable spots in the non-bank financial sector. It is important to implement structural reforms to foster private sector activity, by improving the investment environment and strengthening physical and human capital.
International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.
This 2018 Article IV Consultation highlights that Colombia’s outlook is favorable as continued efforts to advance the structural reforms will foster economic diversification and productivity growth. In 2017, adequate policy management brought Colombia near completion of its adjustment to large external shocks while further advancing inclusive growth. Economic growth moderated as private investment and consumption weakened in line with lower national income. Economic growth is expected to rebound strongly in 2018 and further over the medium-term, led by strengthening investment and exports. The combined impact of the structural tax reform, a brighter outlook for oil prices and the authorities Fourth Generation infrastructure agenda will underpin investment while reducing Colombia’s relatively large infrastructure gap.
International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.
This 2017 Article IV Consultation highlights Nicaragua’s robust macroeconomic performance in 2016. Real GDP grew by 4.7 percent in 2016, supported by strong domestic demand, while inflation remained subdued at 3.1 percent as of the end of 2016, owing largely to the contribution of food prices. The current account deficit for 2016 is estimated to have narrowed to 8.6 percent of GDP, compared with 9 percent in 2015. This consolidation is largely explained by maquila exports, which have been better captured owing to improvements in statistical compilation. The current account deficit remained financed by foreign direct investment and other long-term inflows.