Emerging Market Countries and the Crisis: How Have They Coped?

By Reza Moghadam

How time flies: only a year ago, we were in the throes of the biggest global crisis since the Great Depression. As the extent of the damage to institutions in financial centers became evident—starkly highlighted by the Lehman bankruptcy—and the crisis started to affect emerging market economies (EMs), a timely and coordinated countercyclical response was launched.

This helped stave off the worst of the crisis. The IMF supported the global response by increasing its resources and overhauling its lending framework to help those facing financing pressures. A recovery is now taking hold in many parts of the world.

Six months ago, we took a preliminary look at the design and performance of IMF-supported programs in emerging markets. In a forthcoming paper, we are casting a wider net—examining factors that determined the extent to which a broader group of EMs were affected by the crisis, the policy measures they have taken, factors shaping the ongoing recovery, and sustainability considerations over the medium term.

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Latin America and the Caribbean: Finding Space for Countercyclical Fiscal Policy

By Nicolás Eyzaguirre

(Version en español)

In this year of global recession, fiscal policy has been able to play a supportive role in some countries of the Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) region.  Even as the downturn caused fiscal revenues to fall, many governments were able to avoid cutting expenditure, and some were able to provide a sizable positive fiscal impulse, actively raising expenditure to provide a boost to domestic demand and GDP.   

This is especially clear among the group we call “commodity exporting, financially integrated countries” (see Figure). Fiscal policy is also playing a countercyclical role in a number of other countries in 2009.  In contrast, some of the region’s other commodity exporting countries—which in general had implemented a procyclical fiscal policy during the previous years of expansion—continue to do so in 2009, with negative fiscal impulses.

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The Commodity Connection: Rising Commodity Prices and the Outlook for Latin America and the Caribbean

By Nicolás Eyzaguirre

(Version en español)

As the world economy emerges from recession, it’s worth thinking about how the composition of this recovery, in terms of which countries expand faster, will affect commodity prices—and how those prices influence the outlook for economies of the Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) region.

Commodity prices usually follow a pattern of sizable declines in episodes of world recession, followed by some degree of recovery—and the current episode is no exception (Figure 1).

But within that pattern, what is notable is that this time the recovery of global activity is uneven, with emerging Asian countries already taking the lead, while the most advanced economies are recovering more slowly. Because the former countries consume relatively more commodities, this uneven composition of global growth is a key reason for the recovery recently seen in commodity prices, and for thinking that this will continue.


This pattern of commodity prices’ being sensitive to the condition of Asian economies is not new: the crisis in East Asia in the late 1990s sent commodity prices down, even while the advanced economies maintained growth. And in the early 1990s, when advanced economies had a downturn that was not shared by other countries, commodity prices avoided a big decline.

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Why Did Latin America Do Better in This Crisis? The Benefits of Being Prepared

By Nicolás Eyzaguirre

(Version en español)

Although this time the external shocks were very strong in this year of global crisis, the Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) region has performed notably better than in the past, and also better than many other emerging market countries.

This improvement can be attributed to the fact that the region faced the crisis equipped with economic policy frameworks that were more solid and credible than in the past, and with smaller financial, external, and fiscal vulnerabilities. This allowed a number of countries of the region to implement countercyclical monetary and fiscal policies.

Figure 1 shows a measure of the benefits that this better preparation has brought. It compares the fall in average growth of GDP actually observed in Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru (solid line) with our best estimate of the decline that would have occurred if their policy frameworks and vulnerabilities had not been changed (dashed line). The estimates here suggest that these countries were able to “save” about 4 percentage points of GDP during the crisis, thanks to their better preparations for confronting external shocks.


Figure 2 shows that various countries of the region had the room or “space” to apply countercyclical fiscal and monetary policies during this crisis. The figure depicts changes in interest rates (vertical axis) and in fiscal deficits (horizontal axis) for each country of the LAC region, where the colors group countries according to certain general characteristics and the diameter of the circles represent the relative size of each economy.

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