Debt has risen around the world, and Latin America and the Caribbean is no exception. Total debt has grown to US$5.8 trillion, or 117 percent of GDP, for the region and as much as 140 percent of GDP for its five largest economies. Public debt soared to over 70 percent of GDP during the pandemic, and corporates issued substantial amounts to survive the crisis. While the spending that led to this debt helped the region weather the pandemic, it is now weighing down the economy. This book examines the rise in debt in Latin America and the Caribbean and offers recommendations to policymakers to ensure debt is used wisely, avoid the harmful impacts, manage high debt levels well, and bring down debt where it is too high. It is hoped that the analyses and policy suggestions in this volume contribute to successfully confronting the challenges, lowering risk, boosting growth, and improving living standards across the region and beyond.
Background IDB Research
Externally Published Background Research
How Fiscal Rules Can Reduce Sovereign Debt Default Risk., Gomez-Gonzalez, Jose E., Oscar M. Valencia, and Gustavo A. Sánchez. (2022), Emerging Markets Review 50 (March): 100839
Risk Spillovers between Global Corporations and Latin American Sovereigns: Global Factors Matter., Gomez-Gonzalez, Jose E., Jorge M. Uribe, and Oscar M. Valencia. (2023), Applied Economics 55 (13): 1477–96.
Bridging the Gap: Mobilization of Multilateral Development Banks in Infrastructure., Avellán, Leopoldo, Arturo J. Galindo, Giulia Lotti, and Juan Pablo Rodríguez. (2024), World Development 176 (April): 106498.
The Impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Firms in the Caribbean., Acevedo, María Cecilia, Joaquín Lennon, Stefano Pereira, and Patricia Yañez-Pagans. (2021), Development through the Private Sector Series Technical Note 29. Washington, DC: IDB Invest.
How fiscal rules can reduce sovereign debt default risk, Jose E. Gomez-Gonzales, Oscar M. Valencia and Gustavo A. Sánchez, (2022), Emerging Markets Review, Volume 50, Article 100839
Risk spillovers between global corporations and Latin American sovereigns: global factors matter, Jose E. Gomez-Gonzalez, Jorge M. Uribe and Oscar M. Valencia, (2022), Applied Economics
The Impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Firms in the Caribbean, Acevedo, M.C., J. Lennon, S. Pereira and P. Yañez-Pagans (2021), Development through the Private Sector Series August 2021, TN No. 29, IDB Invest.
Trust is the most pressing and yet least discussed problem confronting Latin America and the Caribbean. Whether in others, in government, or in firms, trust is lower in the region than anywhere else in the world. The economic and political consequences of mistrust ripple through society. It suppresses growth and innovation: investment, entrepreneurship, and employment all flourish when firms and government, workers and employers, banks and borrowers, and consumers and producers trust each other.
To close its infrastructure gap, Latin America and the Caribbean needs more than investment in new structures. It needs to become more efficient at investing in infrastructure and regulating a new range of services that have the potential to disrupt the energy, transport, and water sectors. The technological revolution makes a future with quality services possible, but not inevitable.
Thirty years after the region embarked on large-scale liberalization, trade policy could have been expected to become all but irrelevant. Instead, a mismatch between expectations and what could realistically be delivered set the stage for much of the disappointment, skepticism, and fatigue regarding trade policy in the region, particularly in the early 2000s. By setting the bar unrealistically high, governments and analysts made trade policies an easy target for special interests that were hurt by liberalization and for those ideologically opposed to free trade.
How can the puzzle of larger demands and fiscal strengthening be solved? This edition of the Development in the Americas (DIA) report focuses precisely on this question. The book suggests that the answer is about fiscal efficiency and smart spending rather than the standard solution of across-the-board spending cuts to achieve fiscal sustainability— sometimes at great cost for society. It is about doing more with less.
Despite governments’ best efforts, many people in Latin America and the Caribbean don’t have the skills they need to thrive. This book looks at what policies work, and don’t work, so that governments can help people learn better and realize their potential throughout their lifetimes.
Why should people—and economies—save? The typical answer usually focuses on the need to protect against future shocks, to smooth consumption during hard times, in short, to save for the proverbial rainy day. This book approaches the question from a slightly different angle.
Child well-being matters for both ethical and economic reasons as children who flourish in the early years are more likely to become healthy, productive citizens later in life.
Anemic economic growth in Latin America and the Caribbean is in need of a post-Washington-Consensus policy shot in the arm. Unfortunately, the ghost of industrial policy casts a shadow over all efforts because it has often done more harm than good.
More than Revenue aims to provide an up-to-date overview of the current state of taxation in the Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) region, its main reform needs, and possible reform strategies that take into account the likely economic, institutional, and political constraints on the reform process.
This edition of the IDB's flagship publication, Development in the Americas, takes an in-depth look at the opportunities countries have to improve urban housing markets and pave the way for solutions that involve the private sector.
Policymakers and academics agree that computers, the Internet, mobile telephones and other information and communication technologies can be beneficial for economic and social development. But how strong is the impact?
The book provides tools to ponder productivity growth beyond conventional aggregate analysis, focusing on the extreme heterogeneity of sectors and firms while emphasizing the importance of policies that allow high productivity firms to thrive and expand.
Using an enhanced version of the recently created Gallup World Poll, the Inter-American Development Bank surveyed people from throughout the region and found that perceptions of quality of life are often very different from the reality.