Western Hemisphere Region
Latin America and the Caribbean: Coping with Challenging Times
Growth in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) has slowed down more than anticipated, as weak dynamics in South America have outweighed an incipient recovery in Mexico. Lower-than-expected external demand and softer terms of trade explain some of the weakness, but domestic supply-side bottlenecks and policy uncertainties have also weighed on confidence and private demand in several economies. Notwithstanding the projected pick-up in activity over the period ahead, growth is projected to be as low as 1.3 percent in 2014 and 2.2 percent in 2015. Spare capacity remains limited, however, underscoring the urgency of supply-side reforms to boost productivity and potential growth. Monetary policy and exchange rate flexibility should continue to serve as the first line of defense against adverse shocks, while a looser fiscal stance is unwarranted in most countries, especially those with weak public finances. Financial sector risks bear close monitoring, as the confluence of lower growth, rising U.S. interest rates, and geopolitical tensions could pose a considerable challenge.