Latin America Initiative

Latin America faces important development challenges. Although many countries have implemented solid macroeconomic and financial policies, large segments of the population have not reaped the benefits from higher economic growth. Based on the analysis of CGD’s substantial in-house expertise in the region, the initiative goal is to advance recommendations to policymakers in Latin America as well as those in developed countries and multilateral organizations to support the region’s efforts to climb the development ladder and reach shared prosperity

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While Latin America shares many features with the rest of the developing world, three features characterize most countries in the region: Latin America is the most financially open (that is, it has the fewest restrictions to the cross-border movement of capital), the most democratic, and the most socially unequal of the world’s developing regions.

These features combine to produce an important development challenge. While Latin America’s generally sound macroeconomic and financial policies supported high growth rates since the mid-2000s and an impressive resilience to the 2008 global financial crisis, many people have not significantly benefited from this growth. Inadequate social services and, in some countries, high poverty rates remain a problem. Institutional deficiencies, lagging productivity, and escalating transnational violence—often influenced by US policies—feed popular discontent that could threaten sustained growth.

Led by senior fellow Liliana-Rojas Suarez, the Latin America Initiative seeks to analyze the Latin American experience and offer lessons to both advanced and developing countries, as well as to international standards-setting bodies:

  • What can developed countries learn on financial crisis prevention and management from the vast experience of Latin America?
  • How can Latin America’s experience be useful to multilateral organizations in designing their recommendations for financial stability?
  • What can other developing countries seeking economic growth in the context of greater financial integration learn from Latin America’s strengths and weaknesses?
  • How can the experience of today’s high-income countries inform Latin America’s efforts to escape the so-called middle income trap (a trap that Brazil, the largest Latin American economy, has remained in for over two decades)?
  • How can the United States better monitor development assistance to Latin America, and Haiti in particular, as it continues with relief and recovery efforts?
  • What can the United States do to address key political and economic security challenges facing Mexico and other Latin American nations?

CGD’s substantial in-house expertise on Latin America and the large stock of research it has undertaken on the region places the Center in a strong position to address some of these questions. CGD has published two books on Latin America and a large number of working papers, reports, and policy notes dealing with key issues in the region. CGD also hosts most meetings of the Latin America Shadow Financial Regulatory Committee (CLAAF), which is comprised mostly of former central bank governors and ministers of finance from the region.    


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The US Agency for International Development (USAID) is the world’s largest bilateral development agency. CGD’s work focuses on strengthening USAID’s position as a leading development agency by providing research and analysis on the agency’s various development initiatives and operational reforms.

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The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) is an independent US foreign assistance agency with a focused mission of reducing poverty through economic growth. MCC’s model of assistance is predicated on key principles of aid effectiveness, including country ownership, transparency, and sustainable results. CGD provides regular analysis and research on the policies, operations, and effectiveness of the agency, along with ideas for innovation and adaptation.

The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) is the US government’s development finance institution. It is a leading agency in implementing President Obama’s Power Africa Initiative and the Electrify Africa Act. CGD’s work focuses on how OPIC can most effectively promote economic opportunity and growth.

Interagency Development Initiatives

The US government often coordinates the work of various agencies through initiatives aimed at particular development challenges. CGD’s work looks at the impact of these interagency initiatives by exploring their ability to deliver on development goals.

Recent US administrations have sought to incorporate key principles of aid effectiveness into their foreign assistance architecture while proposing reforms to boost operational capacity. CGD regularly evaluates US efforts to implement these reforms and principles, which cut across agencies, sectors, and initiatives.

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As the lead agency on foreign affairs, the Department of State takes the lead in a number of areas of development policy, particularly at the nexus of development and democracy. State is also tightly linked to USAID and houses PEPFAR.

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US Treasury leads the Administration’s engagement in multilateral development assistance, participates in bilateral policy dialogue with developing countries, and provides technical assistance related to public financial management in many developing countries. CGD’s research focuses on how the United States can more effectively leverage its role in multilateral institutions and recommendations on how these institutions can adapt to an evolving development landscape.