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  • Author: Liliana Rojas-Suarez, Arturo J. Galindo, Marielle del Valle
  • Publication Date: 05-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: A number of banks in developed countries argue that the new capital requirements under Basel III are too stringent and that implementing the proposed regulation would require raising large amounts of capital, with adverse consequences on credit and the cost of finance. In contrast, many emerging market economies claim that their systems are adequately capitalized and that they have no problems with implementing the new capital requirements. This paper conducts a detailed calculation of capital held by the banks in four Latin American countries—known as the Andean countries: Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru—and assesses the potential effects of full compliance with the capital requirements under Basel III. The conclusions are positive and show that while capital would decline somewhat in these countries after they make adjustments to comply with the new definition of capital under Basel III, they would still meet the Basel III recommendations on capital requirements. More importantly, these countries would hold Tier capital to risk-weighted-asset ratios significantly above the 8.5 percent requirement under Basel III. That is, not only the quantity, but also the quality of capital is adequate in the countries under study. While encouraging, these results should not be taken as a panacea since the new regulations are only effective if coupled with appropriate risk management and supervision mechanisms to control the build-up of excessive risk-taking by banks. Further research into these areas is needed for a complete assessment of the strength of banks in the Andean countries.
  • Topic: Debt, Economics, International Trade and Finance, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: Colombia, Latin America, Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia
  • Author: Liliana Rojas-Suarez, José Luis Guasch, Veronica Gonzales
  • Publication Date: 06-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: Over the last decade, Central American countries—Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua—have made significant progress in social and economic areas. In particular, they have stabilized their economies after decades of civil war and the economic volatility that plagued the region through the 1990s. Most countries in Central America have taken important steps to improve their business climates, particularly by enhancing macroeconomic stability, improving the soundness of their financial systems, making improvements in infrastructure services and trade facilitation, reducing red tape, and simplifying their regulatory and tax frameworks. As a result, before the 2008 financial crisis, GDP per capita in Central America grew at an average rate of 3 percent per year from 2003 to 2008, which, albeit modest, was the most robust and stable period of growth the region had witnessed since the early 1990s. However, despite this achievement, Central American economies are still lagging behind the rest of Latin America and other middle-income countries by per-capita growth rates of 0.5 to 2 percentage points. Even more worrying are the levels of poverty and inequality, which show the lack of inclusiveness in their growth models. Moreover, recent developments in the region show a number of red flags that are weakening macroeconomic and democratic stability. Significant structural changes are urgently needed to secure sustained and inclusive growth.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Emerging Markets, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Latin America, Central America
  • Author: Nora Lustig, Luis F. Lopez-Calva, Eduardo Ortiz-Juarez
  • Publication Date: 10-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: Between 2000 and 2010, the Gini coefficient declined in 13 of 17 Latin American countries. The decline was statistically significant and robust to changes in the time interval, inequality measures, and data sources. In-depth country studies for Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico suggest two main phenomena underlie this trend: a fall in the premium to skilled labor and more progressive government transfers. The fall in the premium to skills resulted from a combination of supply, demand, and institutional factors. Their relative importance depends on the country.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Emerging Markets, Globalization, International Trade and Finance, Poverty, Social Stratification
  • Political Geography: Brazil, Argentina, Latin America, Mexico
  • Author: Liliana Rojas-Suarez
  • Publication Date: 01-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: The international financial crisis of 2008–09 exposed the strengths and weaknesses of the current paradigm of development in Latin America, a paradigm based on liberalized capital accounts and significantly improved macroeconomic conditions. This paper presents lessons derived from the crisis, not only for the region itself, but also for other developing countries that might seek economic growth in the context of greater integration to the international capital markets. Some of the lessons are not new but have been reinforced by the crisis, such as Latin America's imperative need for export diversification (not only in products but in partners). Other lessons break with longstanding myths about the region, such as its inability to undertake counter-cyclical policies—at least on the monetary side. Yet other lessons reflect new developments in the current growth paradigm, such as a renewed assessment of (1) the relative roles of foreign and domestic banks in shielding the financial system against external shocks and (2) the potential costs of adopting blanket international financial regulations that do not account for a country's degree of development. Taken together, the lessons in this paper bring a new sense of optimism for growth in Latin America.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Latin America
  • Author: Liliana Rojas-Suarez
  • Publication Date: 06-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: The depth of and access to financial services provided by banks throughout Latin America are extremely low in spite of its recognized importance for economic activity, employment and poverty alleviation. Low financial depth and access hurts the poor the most and is due to a variety of obstacles that are presented in this paper in four categories, along with recommendations to overcome them. The first category groups socio-economic obstacles that undercut the demand for financial services of large segments of the population. The second category identifies problems in the operations of the banking sector that impedes the adequate provision of financial services to households and firms. The third category captures institutional deficiencies, with emphasis on the quality of the legal framework and the governability of the countries in the region. The fourth category identifies regulations that tend to distort the provision of banking services. Recommendations to confront these obstacles include innovative proposals that take into consideration the political constraints facing individual countries. Some of the policy recommendations include: public-private partnerships to improve financial literacy, the creation of juries specialized in commercial activities to support the rights of borrowers and creditors, and the approval of regulation to allow widespread usage of technological innovations to permit low-income families and small firms to gain access to financial services.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, International Trade and Finance, Poverty
  • Political Geography: Latin America