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    Effects of the Business Cycle on Social Indicators in Latin America and the Caribbean: When Dreams Meet Reality
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2019-04-04) Vegh, Carlos A. ; Vuletin, Guillermo ; Riera-Crichton, Daniel ; Puig, Jorge ; Camarena, José Andrée ; Galeano, Luciana ; Morano, Luis ; Venturi, Lucila
    After mediocre growth in 2018 of 0.7 percent. LAC is expected to perform only marginally better in 2019 (growth of 0.9 percent) followed by a much more solid growth of 2.1 percent in 2020. LAC will face both internal and external challenges during 2019. On the domestic front. the recession in Argentina; a slower than expected recovery in Brazil from the 2014-2015 recession, anemic growth in Mexico. and the continued deterioration of Venezuela. present the biggest challenges. On the external front. the sharp drop in net capital inflows to the region since early 2018 and the monetary policy normalization in the United States stand among the greatest perils. Furthermore, the recent increase in poverty in Brazil because of the recession points to the large effects that the business cycle may have on poverty. The core of this report argues that social indicators that are very sensitive to the business cycle may yield a highly misleading picture of permanent social gains in the region.
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    From Known Unknowns to Black Swans: How to Manage Risk in Latin America and the Caribbean
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2018-10-05) Vegh, Carlos A. ; Vuletin, Guillermo ; Riera-Crichton, Daniel ; Medina, Juan Pablo ; Friedheim, Diego ; Morano, Luis ; Venturi, Lucila
    After a growth recovery, with an expansion of 1.1 percent in 2017, the region has encountered some bumps in the road. The Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) region is expected to grow at a modest rate of 0.6 percent in 2018 and 1.6 percent in 2019. This slowdown in the region’s recovery is mainly explained by the crisis that started in Argentina in April, the growth slowdown in Brazil, and the continuing economic, social, and humanitarian collapse in Venezuela. Furthermore, net capital inflows to the region have fallen dramatically since early 2018, bringing once again to the fore the risks faced by LAC. In addition, natural disasters such as earthquakes and hurricanes have brought devastation to the region with disturbing frequency. The core of the report analyzes the foundations of risk, develops a theoretical framework to price risk instruments, and reviews how LAC has managed risk in practice. The overall message of the report is that there are different types of risk: (i) those that follow standard probabilistic distributions that can be easily insured by the market; and (ii) those that exhibit fat-tails (i.e., non-negligible probabilities of extreme events) that are much harder to ensure by the market (like earthquakes). Finally, there are “black swans” that, by definition, are unpredictable events that cannot be insured and force countries to rely exclusively on ex-post aid and/or broad preventive measures. In other words, the fatter are the tails of a distribution, the less market insurance is available, and the more countries will have to rely on ex-post aid. Yet progress in managing risk continues to be made (the Catastrophe Bond for earthquakes in the Pacific Alliance, recently sponsored by the World Bank, being an outstanding example). This would have been unthinkable some time ago. New knowledge and insurance schemes, all supported by institutions such as the World Bank, will undoubtedly make LAC a safer region to live and prosper.
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    Fiscal Adjustment in Latin America and the Caribbean: Short-Run Pain, Long-Run Gain?
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2018-04-17) Vegh, Carlos A. ; Vuletin, Guillermo ; Riera-Crichton, Daniel ; Friedheim, Diego ; Morano, Luis ; Camarena, José Andrée
    After a growth slowdown that lasted six years, the Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) region has finally turned the corner and resumed growth at a modest rate of 1.1 percent in 2017 and 1.8 percent expected in 2018. This reflects a more favorable external environment, particularly a recovery in commodity prices. In spite of the benign external environment, most LAC countries still face a fragile fiscal situation. While gradual fiscal adjustments have started in several countries, most countries are still running fiscal deficits and debt levels are high. Further fiscal consolidation is needed to preserve the substantial gains achieved by the region in recent times, in terms of lower inflation, less poverty and inequality, and inclusive growth. This Semiannual Report analyzes the complex decisions regarding fiscal adjustment policies.