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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
The Center for Global Development (CGD) and the Global Development Network (GDN) convened an experts' research workshop on quantifying the impact of developed countries' policies on developing countries, at CGD in Washington, DC, on October 23rd and 24th, 2003.
Michael Kremer of Harvard and Brookings presented "The Illusion of Sustainability" (joint with Ted Miguel of Berkeley). Jishnu Das of the World Bank and Scott Barrett of Johns Hopkins SAIS were discussants.