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Multiple crises in the Latin American past, including severe banking crises, have been accompanied by sharp and persistent devaluations. This time around, the impressively large currency depreciations (over 50 percent in some countries) resulting from the ongoing commodity price shock and volatile international capital markets have resulted in contraction in output growth (and even recession in Brazil), but no financial crisis.
Why not? And can Latin America muddle through this episode of adverse international conditions and avoid the severe financial crises that distinguished the region in the 1980s and 1990s? Or will cumulative shocks eventually expose domestic financial vulnerabilities and cause severe crises to ensue?
In a short report accompanying the event, CLAAF members will seek to answer these questions, as well as:
Will an eventual increase in the Fed’s rates be the straw that breaks the camel's back in the region or will the expected series of small Fed rate hikes calm markets and induce a renewal of inflows to Latin America?
Increased flexibility in exchange rates has certainly helped absorb external shocks in the region. But, as most Latin American countries lack strong institutional quality, has this policy unintentionally resulted in a false sense of security and fostered postponement of needed reforms in other key areas?
Is now the time for tight monetary/fiscal policies even if they are pro-cyclical?
Guillermo Calvo, Professor, Columbia University; former Chief Economist, Inter-American Development Bank Carmen Reinhart, Minos A. Zombanakis Professor of the International Financial System at Harvard Kennedy School Liliana Rojas-Suarez, President, CLAAF and Senior Fellow and Director, Latin America Initiative, Center for Global Development Laura Alfaro, Professor, Harvard Business School; former Minister of National Planning and Economic Policy, Costa Rica Pedro Carvalho de Mello, Professor, Universidade de Sao Paulo; former Commissioner, Comissao de Valores Mobiliarios, Brazil Roque Fernandez, Professor, Universidad del CEMA; former Minister of Finance, Argentina Pablo Guidotti Dean and Professor, School of Government, Universidad Torcuato di Tella; Former Vice-Minister of Finance, Argentina Enrique Mendoza, Presidential Professor of Economics at the University of Pennsylvania and Director of Penn Institute for Economic Research Guillermo Perry, Non-resident fellow, Center for Global Development; Professor, Universidad de los Andes; Former Minister of Finance, Colombia Ernesto Talvi, Director of the Brookings-CERES Economic and Social Policy in Latin America Initiative
In a recent paper, Kate Ambler and coauthors studied the impact of one-season cash transfers for agricultural investment in Senegal and Malawi, using data from a randomized control trial (RCT) in each country. They found evidence that transfers reduced both the number of decision makers and female decision making in Senegal in the short-run, particularly for measures directly related to agriculture. However, the effects disappeared two years after the transfers. Conversely, the authors find transfers in the Malawi program led to robust transitory increases in these measures, seeing a greater impact related to the number of decision makers in the household persisting after two year period. Join us for the latest CGD Invited Research Forum to discuss these opposing findings on the effects of cash transfers on household decision making.
Indian agriculture remains vulnerable to the vagaries of weather, and the looming threat of climate change may expose this vulnerability further. Using district-level data on temperature, rainfall and crop production, Siddharth Hari’s paper first documents a long-term trend of rising temperatures, declining average precipitation and increase in extreme precipitation events. One key finding is that the impact of temperature and rainfall are felt only in the extreme: when temperatures are much higher, rainfall is significantly lower, and the number of “dry days” greater is than normal. He also finds that these impacts are significantly more adverse in unirrigated areas (and hence rainfed crops) compared to irrigated areas. Can policy makers react to the challenges of climate change and find ways to get “more crop for every drop?"
Estimating intergenerational mobility in developing countries is difficult because matched parent-child income records are rarely available and education is measured very coarsely. In particular, there are no established methods for comparing educational mobility for subsamples of the population when the education distribution is changing over time.
In their recent paper, Sam Asher and coauthors present new methods and new administrative data to overcome this gap, and study intergenerational mobility across groups and across space in India. They find that the intergenerational mobility for the population as a whole has remained constant since liberalization, but cross-group changes have been substantial. Rising mobility among historically marginalized "Scheduled Castes" is almost exactly offset by declining intergenerational mobility among Muslims, a comparably sized group that has few constitutional protections. These findings contest the conventional wisdom that marginalized groups in India have been catching up on average. The paper also explores heterogeneity across space, generating the first high-resolution geographic measures of intergenerational mobility across India, with results across 5600 rural subdistricts and 2300 cities and towns.