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Latin America And The Caribbean As Tailwinds Recede: In Search Of Higher Growth

Report by The World Bank, 2013

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This semiannual report examines the short and medium-term challenges for Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) as the external factors instrumental in the region’s recent performance. Chapter 1 provides an overview of the global economy and its implications for the short and medium-term prospects of the LAC region. Chapter 2 provides a detailed analysis of the general patterns of domestic demand and supply observed in LAC over the last decade.

Latin America


In Search of


and
the Caribbean


Higher Growth


Semiannual Report
Office of the Regional Chief Economist


April 2013


as Tailwinds
Recede








| 3



















LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN
AS TAILWINDS RECEDE:


IN SEARCH OF HIGHER GROWTH




© 2013 International Bank for Reconstruction and Development / The World Bank
1818 H Street NW, Washington DC 20433
Telephone: 202-473-1000; Internet: www.worldbank.org


Some rights reserved


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Attribution—Please cite the work as follows: de la Torre, Augusto, Eduardo Levy Yeyati, Samuel Pienknagura.
2013. “Latin America and the Caribbean as Tailwinds Recede: In Search of Higher Growth.” LAC Semiannual
Report, World Bank, Washington, DC. doi:10.1596/978-0-8213-9975-0 License: Creative Commons
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ISBN (electronic): 978-0-8213-9975-0
DOI: 10.1596/978-0-8213-9975-0


Cover design: Kilka Diseño Gráfico





| 5




Foreword


This semiannual report — a product of the Office of the Chief Economist for Latin America and
the Caribbean Region of the World Bank — examines the short and medium-term challenges for
Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) as the external factors that were instrumental in the region’s
recent performance recede.

As is customary in this series, Chapter 1 starts by providing an overview of the global economy and
its implications for the short and medium-term prospects of the LAC region. Chapter 2 provides a
detailed analysis of the general patterns of domestic demand and supply observed in LAC over the
last decade.

This report was led by Augusto de la Torre, Regional Chief Economist, and Eduardo Levy Yeyati, in
close collaboration with Samuel Pienknagura, Research Economist. Substantive inputs were
provided by Tatiana Didier, Julian Messina, Marcela Sanchez-Bender, as well as members of the
Regional Leadership Team from the Vice Presidency for Latin America and the Caribbean of The
World Bank. Nicolas Kohn and Tanya Taveras, members of the LCRCE Macro-team, provided
outstanding research assistance. Danilo Delgado, Karen Ortiz, and Juan Pablo Uribe provided
helpful contributions in preparing parts of this report. Finally, we would like to gratefully
acknowledge the help received from Kiyomi Cadena, Leonardo Lucchetti, and Carlos Rodriguez.


April 2013





6 | Latin America and the Caribbean as Tailwinds Recede: In Search of Higher Growth








| 7




Executive Summary

Economic and financial news in the past six months point to a softening of the formidable tailwinds that facilitated the


achievement of high growth with social equity in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) over the past decade. The


developed world seems to have arrived to a much debated “new normal” of excess liquidity, uninspiring growth


(particularly in Europe), and stubbornly high public debt, even as the probability of a systemic event that would


dislocate the global financial and economic dynamics has been, if not eliminated, at least postponed, thanks to the


proactive action by major monetary authorities. At the same time, China seems on its way towards a lower but


arguably more sustainable rate of growth (between 7 and 8 percent). Tailwinds for LAC are clearly receding.


Against this backdrop, a 0.5 percentage point acceleration of growth rates in the emerging world is forecast for 2013,


although with a large degree of heterogeneity. China should continue to lead with a projected 8.2 percent growth rate,


while the middle income countries (MICs) of Eastern Europe, severely affected by the EU’s unresolved problems, will


likely lag and expand by around 2.5 percent. In between, South East Asian MICs and LAC are expected to grow


by 4.3 and 3.5 percent, respectively. There is also greater heterogeneity in the 2013 growth forecasts for countries


within LAC, ranging from as low as 0.1 and 1 percent for Venezuela and Jamaica, respectively, to 6 percent for


Peru, 9 percent for Panama, and 11 percent for Paraguay. Bolivia, Chile and Colombia will continue to beat the


regional average with growth projections between 4 and 5 percent, while Argentina and Brazil will likely fall below the


regional average, despite bouncing from rates below 2 percent in 2012 to close to 3 percent in 2013.


Using an index that combines the three key exogenous drivers of LAC's growth (external demand coming from G7


countries and China, terms of trade shocks, and global financial risk), we estimate that whereas the strong winds of the


recent past were consistent with average growth rates in LAC of 5-6 percent, the now receding tailwinds are, in the


absence of growth oriented reforms, consistent with an average growth around of 3.5 percent. This is not bad, to be


sure, but it would be lower should the global scenario unexpectedly worsen and is, in any case, insufficient to maintain


the pace of social progress that the region registered—and became accustomed to—in the past decade. Accordingly, the


policy emphasis is shifting from external to domestic engines of growth, and from macro and financial stability concerns


to growth-enhancing reforms. As global tailwinds subside, the ability of Latin American countries to lift


(noninflationary) trend growth above 3.5 percent depends critically on themselves.


How can the region turn on the domestic engines of growth for good? Answering this question requires an


understanding of the specificities of LAC’s growth pattern, its limitations, and its strengths. Two aspects stand out in


this regard, in sharp contrast with the South East Asian growth model: (i) domestic demand-driven growth and (ii)


the rising importance of the service sector in the creation of value added and employment (“tertiarization”).


Indeed, domestic demand in South America and Mexico (SAM) drove last decade’s growth. The share went from an


already high level close to 99 percent of GDP in the early 2000s to about 104 percent in the late 2000s. By contrast,


domestic demand in South East Asia which by the early 2000s was barely about 95 percent actually declined


somewhat by the late 2000s. Moreover, the strong expansion of domestic demand in SAM was not, as often believed,


an overriding consumption story. In most of SAM, real investment grew faster than private consumption and


significantly in excess of real GDP. As a result, LAC brought its average investment ratio closer to that in South


East Asian MICs.





8 | Latin America and the Caribbean as Tailwinds Recede: In Search of Higher Growth




The flipside of SAM´s domestic demand-led growth is a tendency toward current account deficits, which started to


emerge, following modest surpluses, already in 2008, despite the continued commodity export bonanza. A close look at


the structure of SAM’s external transactions reveals a systematic dynamic whereby imports of hard-to-substitute


capital and intermediate goods (the lion’s share of total imports) are financed by foreign capital (mostly FDI) that


eventually gets repaid in the form of large factor payments abroad and that subtract from the trade balance, placing the


current account in negative territory. The South East Asian export-led growth model, by contrast, generates


consistently high current account surpluses and has a much subdued reliance on foreign capital. LAC thus illustrates


the reversal of the Lucas paradox: foreign capital flows into countries with good prospects to fund profitable investments


and bring the profits back home.


How can we reconcile this domestic demand-led, FDI-financed Latin American path to growth with the well-


documented importance of external growth drivers? The remarkable resilience of FDI flows into SAM certainly owes


to low international interest rates and record terms of trade that increased the relative investment appeal of natural


resource-rich economies. In turn, the trade balance, which strengthened visibly in the early 2000s, provided the foreign


exchange to meet the rising domestic demand, boosted public finances, and helped SAM deleverage and de-dollarize


away from macro and financial fragilities. Global tailwinds were thus metabolized into domestic demand expansion


and overall healthier economies. Against a backdrop of abundant international liquidity, LAC was able to lure


foreign savings to fuel growth and compensate for the region’s historically low savings ratios.


In turn, “tertiarization” in LAC may be seen as a consequence of domestic demand favoring non-tradables over


tradables or, more specifically, services over manufactures. This point should not be exaggerated, however, as a quick


global comparison suggests that LAC tended to converge towards the expected path, whereby the share of services (in


terms of value added and employment) rises with per capita income. Moreover, manufacturing shares may not be


comparable overtime. Globalization and outsourcing imply that many tertiary activities that in the past were performed


inside the industrial firm now are provided by outside service suppliers, and are therefore grouped under services at the


expense of the industrial output. In sum, tertiarization in LAC looks not only consistent with LAC’s income growth,


but also with structural changes in the global economy. And while by-and-large LAC countries employ a bigger share


of their labor force in services than what their income levels (and their service value added) would predict, the gap


between the observed labor shares in services and those predicted by income also narrowed in the 2000s.


The idea that services are unskilled and unsophisticated is put into also question by LAC´s data. Non-construction


services are, comparatively speaking, skill-intensive: more than 50 percent of the labor force employed in services has at


least a secondary degree (20 percent have a tertiary degree), compared to 40 percent in manufacturing. However, a


cursory look at LAC’s exports shows that services are still far from substituting manufactures as a tradable product.


While their skill content has been rising, overall levels of services exports are still very low compared to South East


Asia. In sum, LAC’s policy concern should be not about the growing importance of services in the economy but rather


about the productivity and tradability of the service sector.


All things considered, LAC’s domestic demand-driven growth is not necessarily flawed. The prevalence of domestic


demand—and its flipside, the low savings rates—is consistent with the vigorous pro-poor redistribution and rise of the


middle class that LAC experienced in the past decade. Ultimately, you cannot have the cake and eat it too. Moreover,


it is unlikely that LAC will be able to re-industrialize as to become more like South East Asia, considering the





| 9




relatively low private and public savings, the appreciated currencies, and the need for further gains in social equity, all


of which entails higher (and therefore less internationally competitive) wages. At this stage of LAC’s development, the


quest for export competiveness through cheap labor and undervalued exchange rates looks politically unfeasible and


probably economically suboptimal.


What is next then? In the short run, most of LAC will likely continue to rely on natural resources and foreign capital


to compensate for insufficient local savings. The design of regulatory and contractual frameworks that find the right


balance between foreign capital-friendly policies that respect property rights, on the one hand, and a fair distribution of


the rents of FDI-funded investment, on the other, remains high on the agenda, especially considering that commodity


prices are subject to unexpected changes. In the long run, success will depend critically on the level and composition of


investment, both in physical and human capital. Infrastructure and quality education are thus increasingly recognized


as top priorities, and rightly so. More generally, if competitiveness beyond natural resource-intensive goods is to be


developed without sacrificing living standards, productivity is the name of the game.








10 | Latin America and the Caribbean as Tailwinds Recede: In Search of Higher Growth











| 11




Chapter 1:
A Windless World

After an unprecedented performance in the mid-2000s and a robust recovery in the aftermath of the
global financial crisis, Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) taken as a whole entered a period of
slower growth dynamics in the past two years.1 In fact, as documented in the previous report in this
series, “The Labor Market Story Behind Latin America’s Transformation,” the region joined a
generalized deceleration experienced across emerging economies that drove growth rates down by
approximately 3 percentage points between 2010 and 2012.

The GDP growth deceleration observed in LAC from 2010 to 2012 is expected to be reverted
somewhat in 2013. The most recent consensus forecasts put the region’s growth for 2013 at about
3.5 percent compared to the 3 percent observed in 2012. This number, however, is still well below
the 5 percent average growth in the pre-crisis period or the 6 percent in 2010 (Figure 1.1, Panels A
and B).

The mild acceleration in LAC’s rate of economic expansion is once again predicted to occur in line
with other emerging regions. In fact, the common pattern observed across the emerging world holds
not only for the direction of the change in growth rates, but also the size of this change: a 0.5
percentage point acceleration in growth rates is estimated across the board. But, behind this
common pattern, growth prospects in emerging economies are displaying a larger degree of
heterogeneity. China continues to lead the pack with an expected 8.2 percent growth rate for 2013.
In contrast, the middle income countries (MICs) of Eastern Europe, the group of emerging
economies more severely affected by the EU’s unresolved problems, is expected to underperform
other emerging economies with an average growth rate of about 2.5 percent. In between, South East
Asian MICs and LAC are expected to post average growth rates of 4.3 and 3.5 percent, respectively.2

There is, however, an important difference between the immediate post-crisis episode and the one
we see looking forward. The 2010-2012 period was characterized by a constant state of uncertainty
where the news flow from the US, China, and most importantly, Europe, triggered jitters across
markets and tended to put policy makers in the emerging world in crisis management mode.3 By
contrast, today the world seems to have reached a state of numbness where, despite the structural
problems faced by high-income economies, short-term global uncertainty has receded. Thanks to
the more proactive action by monetary authorities in the advanced world, the probability of a
systemic event that would greatly dislocate the global financial and economic dynamics has been, if
not eliminated, at least postponed.



1 See the October 2010 report in this series “Globalized, Resilient, Dynamic: The New Face of LAC” for an extended
characterization of LAC’s performance in the 2000s.


2 Throughout this chapter we will benchmark LAC’s performance against four regions: Eastern European MIC’s,
comprised by Croatia, Estonia, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and Turkey; East Asian MIC’s or “New
Tigers”, comprised by Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Republic of Korea, and Thailand; Peripheral Core Economies
(PCEs) comprised by Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Norway, and Sweden.


3 An analysis of global uncertainty in the 2010-2012 period and LAC’s preparedness to face a more volatile world was
presented in the April 2012 report in this series “Latin America Copes with Volatility, The Dark Side of Globalization.”





12 | Latin America and the Caribbean as Tailwinds Recede: In Search of Higher Growth




FIGURE 1.1. Growth Rates and Forecasts Across Regions


PANEL A. Selected Regions PANEL B. Selected Regions



Notes: 2003 – 2007 is the average GDP growth for the countries in each group in this period. Central America & Caribbean include Antigua & Barbuda, Belize, Costa
Rica, Dominica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Panama, Suriname, and Trinidad & Tobago. Eastern
Europe MICs include Croatia, Estonia, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and Turkey. South East Asian MICs include Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines,
South Korea, and Thailand. Peripheral Core Economies include Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Norway, and Sweden. Sources: Consensus Forecasts (March 2013) and
WEO (October 2012).



What are the consequences for LAC’s economic outlook of this new normal of modest global
growth with limited tail risks? The rest of this chapter explores this question in some detail. We start
with a brief description of the current juncture and quantify the effect that global factors have had in
LAC’s performance – the strength and incidence of “global winds” in the past. Next, using forecasts
of some of the key factors affecting the region’s growth, we build a summary index that captures the
expected strength of global winds in the near future. Finally, we analyze the implications of
diminishing global winds in terms of LAC’s growth heterogeneity.


The New Normal: Modest Global Growth with Limited Tail Risk


The economic and financial news from the world in the past six months seems to be the lack of
surprising news. Or, more precisely, the consolidation of a scenario with a moderate recovery in the
US, prospects of a soft landing towards a more sustainable 7 percent growth in China, and an
unpromising but nonetheless stable scenario in Europe—where the more active presence of the
ECB will likely smooth out the occasional shocks coming from the EU periphery. Thus, if the first
post-2009 crisis years were marked by high global downside risks, punctuated by threats of a 2008
re-enactment (mostly but not exclusively, reflecting the deepening of the debt crisis in peripheral
Europe), in 2013 the developed world finally seems to have arrived to a much debated—and,
possibly, transitory—new normal of excess liquidity, modest growth, and stubbornly high debt.

To be sure, this scenario presents fragilities that will need to be resolved down the road to avert the
risk of a new global crisis. But this does not mean that a solution to this ambiguous situation should
materialize in the immediate future. Thanks to the resilience of the American economy, the
momentum of China and the alert management of monetary authorities all over the globe, this
delicate equilibrium, that could be characterized by a probability distribution of growth rates with a
lower mean and thinner tails, could stay with us for a few years.


0


5,000


10,000


15,000


20,000


25,000


30,000


35,000


40,000


45,000


50,000


0%


2%


4%


6%


8%


10%


12%


14%


Eastern Europe
MICs


Latin America
& Caribbean


South East
Asian MICs


China United States


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S


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o


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ar


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in


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P


P
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m


s


G
ro


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th


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at


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Weighted Averages


2003 - 2007


2010


2011


2012


2013f


GDP Per Capita PPP (2010, RHA)


0


5,000


10,000


15,000


20,000


25,000


30,000


35,000


40,000


45,000


50,000


0%


2%


4%


6%


8%


10%


12%


South America
& Mexico


Central
America &
Caribbean


Eastern Europe
MICs


South East
Asian MICs


Peripheral Core
Economies


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s


G
ro


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at


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Weighted Averages


2003 - 2007


2010


2011


2012


2013f


GDP Per Capita PPP (2010, RHA)





| 13




Latin America is taking notice that the new normal will likely be characterized by slower growth in
world demand, abundant capital, and high but stable commodity prices; that is, an international
environment that is supportive but will not push the region to the heights we saw in the mid-2000s.
This new normal suggests that, unlike the 2000s where the region was moved forward by powerful
global tailwinds, economic performance in the coming years will strongly depend (as it is already
happening) on idiosyncratic country policies and fundamentals. From a macroeconomic perspective,
this suggests that 2013 will look quite similar to 2012, and probably not too different from 2014. In
this context, the focus is gradually shifting from external to domestic engines of growth, and from
macro-financial to development policies, to consolidate and extend the economic gains of the past
decade.

It is then an ideal time to take stock and try to distill the main features of Latin American
macroeconomic performance from a broader perspective, to get a better sense of where the region
stands after a benign and eventful decade, and where it may be heading in this brave new world.


A Summary Measure of Global Winds


External factors played a crucial role in Latin American growth in the 2000s: global growth from
advanced economies and China fueled the external demand for, and the international price of, Latin
American natural resources-intensive goods, and low financial risk helped reduce the cost of external
financing and lured international capital into local currency assets. In turn, the economic and trade
collapse and the spike in risk aversion in late 2008 and early 2009 triggered the opposite movement,
inducing capital flight and exchange rate depreciation, and sinking the region into a significant
growth slowdown, but fortunately one that was not accompanied by a domestic financial crisis,
thanks to the improvements in the region’s “macro-financial immune system” that we have
documented in previous reports in this series.



Looking forward, however, the context appears very different. Today, the worst of the 2008 global
crisis seems to be over, the risk of a disorderly solution to the European debt crisis appears to have
been postponed, mainly on account of the decision of the ECB to provide a backstop to liquidity
needs in the EU periphery, and China is softly landing on a (for recent Chinese standards) moderate
7-8 percent growth range. Overall, global downside risk concerns are offset by expectations of
historically low interest rates in the near future, justified in the short run by the slow recovery in
advanced countries and, in the long run, by the need to manage the high debt ratios inherited from
the resolution of the 2008-2009 subprime-related financial crisis. And commodity prices, though
volatile, seem to be losing the strong upward directionality displayed during most of the super cycle
of the past ten years, which was only briefly interrupted in late-2008 and the first half of 2009. In
sum, tailwinds look contained and fairly neutral to the region.



The new international landscape can be summarily illustrated by looking at the past evolution of the
global factors listed above (external demand, terms of trade shocks, and global financial risk) and by
comparing that evolution with the consensus growth forecasts as a way to get a glimpse of where the
world will likely be heading in the future. In the many economic studies on the subject, global
macroeconomic influences have usually been captured by a few highly correlated variables—with the
caveat that, because of the collinearity of the intervening variables, they may lead to imprecise
estimates of their impact on Latin American growth. To mitigate this problem, we prefer to focus
on external demand growth, commodity prices, and financial risk perceptions with a minimum of





14 | Latin America and the Caribbean as Tailwinds Recede: In Search of Higher Growth




controls: G7 and Chinese growth to proxy for global growth, the first principal components of
changes in the international prices of grains, metals and oil to summarize commodity-driven terms
of trade shocks, and the first principal component of the volatility of US equity and the high yield


corporate bond spread to capture perceptions of global financial risk. 4
,5 The results are depicted in


Figure 1.2. To project the index for 2013, we use consensus forecasts for global growth and World
Bank forecasts for commodity prices; for the always elusive financial risk, we assume that it remains
in 2013 at December 2012 levels.

Figure 1.2 (Panels A, B and C) show how the three global drivers, after years of upward and
downward swings before and after the global financial crisis, now appear to be stabilizing, or at least
converging towards what would amount to a summary description of the post-crisis landscape: GDP
growth below pre-crisis rates, financial risk subdued by the developed countries’ expansionary
monetary policy and close to historical lows, and commodity prices stable at current levels. The near
term does not promise significant changes. G7 growth is expected to decline slightly in 2013 due to
the persistence of the European crisis—which is already dragging down growth in less vulnerable
economies such as France and Germany—and to the immediate impact of the US fiscal sequester,
expected to slow down US activity in the first semester of this year. External factors and, more
prominently, internal dynamics continue to interact in the deceleration of China’s growth, which
seems to be soft landing to the 7 percent vicinity.6 And commodity prices, which rebounded in the
second semester of 2012, are envisaged to remain stable at about the levels in 2013.

How would all this translate into Latin American growth? Naturally, the correlation of the local
economy with the global context varies from country to country, most notably with regard to the
influence of commodity terms of trade, which has been positive for commodity-exporting South
American economies and negative for commodity importing Central America—with Mexico, an
idiosyncratic oil producer but manufacturer exporter, in between the two. With this in mind, the
simplest approximation to the previous question is provided by a regression of the common growth
rate of two distinct groups within LAC—South American commodity exporters plus Mexico (SAM),
and Central American commodity importers (CA)—against the global drivers previously
mentioned.7 Data are not available to perform this exercise for the Caribbean, with the exception of
the Dominican Republic, which has been included in the CA group. As expected, the fit of the
regression is quite good: its specification, simple as it is, explains about 85 percent of the common



4 There is evidence that both the correlation of G7 and Chinese growth and their incidence on developing economies
have differed significantly (Levy Yeyati and Williams, 2012); therefore, we look at them separately.


5 Stock price volatility is captured by the VIX index and the bond spreads are measured by the JPMorgan CEMBI Broad
High Yield Blended Spread. Note that the empirical literature tends to find growth to be positively correlated not with
the level but with the secular change in terms of trade (and negatively with their volatility). As Easterly e al. (1993) argue,
if fundamental determinants of growth such as institutions, geography or culture exhibit greater persistence than do the
growth rates themselves, exogenous shocks such as terms of trade variations may account for the variance around those
persistent fundamentals.


6 See our October 2012 report in this series “The Labor Market Story Behind Latin America’s Transformation” for a discussion
of the external and domestic drivers behind China’s slowdown.


7 Common growth is captured by the first principal component of real GDP growth for the countries included in each
group. Similar results are obtained by replacing the first principal component by a simple growth average or by
calibrating the index based on a panel regression of individual growth rates on global drivers.





| 15




FIGURE 1.2. External Drivers and the Global Wind Index


PANEL A. G7 and China PANEL B. Commodity Prices



PANEL C. VIX and High Yield Spread PANEL D. Global Wind Index and SAM


GDP



Notes: Panel A contains the year over year growth rates of real GDP for China and G7. Panel B contains the year over year growth rates of the commodities that were used in
the construction of the Global Wind Index, while PCA refers to the first principal component of these commodities’ growth rates. Panel C contains the VIX (implicit volatility
of the S&P 500), the JPMorgan CEMBI Broad High Yield Blended Spread (HY Index) and PCA is the first principal component of what we refer as risk components.
Panel D illustrates the relationship between the average annual growth rate of the real GDP for South America & Mexico (SAM) and the Global Wind Index (GWI). This
index has been constructed by a linear regression between the components illustrated in Panels A – C and the first principal component of the real GDP growth rates of SAM
countries. Shaded areas represent forecasts. Sources: Bloomberg, Consensus Forecasts (March 2013), Haver Analytics, and The World Bank.



threads in Latin American growth (Table 1.1).8 If, in turn, we use the fitted values from these
regressions to map global drivers onto regional growth we obtain, for each of the two country
groups, an index that summarily captures how global winds have been blowing in recent years. The
index follows very closely the common growth dynamics in LAC (Figure 1.2, Panel D for the case
of SAM), showing, for example, that the strength of the global winds were consistent with an
average growth rate in LAC of about 6 percent per year during 2003-2008.

But can we say anything about where global winds will take LAC in the coming quarters? As noted,
we can use forecasts for these global drivers to project their impact on LAC’s growth and get a fairly



8 As expected, commodity terms of trade shocks show up with the opposite sign for commodity importing CA.
Predictably, the mulicollinearity of most of the variables involved reduce the statistical significance of individual
coefficients.


5%


6%


7%


8%


9%


10%


11%


12%


13%


-6%


-5%


-4%


-3%


-2%


-1%


0%


1%


2%


3%


4%


1Q
2


00
3


4Q
2


00
3


3Q
2


00
4


2Q
2


00
5


1Q
2


00
6


4Q
2


00
6


3Q
2


00
7


2Q
2


00
8


1Q
2


00
9


4Q
2


00
9


3Q
2


01
0


2Q
2


01
1


1Q
2


01
2


4Q
2


01
2


20
13


YoY Growth Rate


G7 China (RHA)


-60%


-40%


-20%


0%


20%


40%


60%


80%


100%


120%


-60%


-40%


-20%


0%


20%


40%


60%


80%


100%


120%


1Q
2


00
7


3Q
2


00
7


1Q
2


00
8


3Q
2


00
8


1Q
2


00
9


3Q
2


00
9


1Q
2


01
0


3Q
2


01
0


1Q
2


01
1


3Q
2


01
1


1Q
2


01
2


3Q
2


01
2


20
13


YoY Growth Rate


PCA Wheat Soybean Maize Oil Copper (RHA)


0%


10%


20%


30%


40%


50%


60%


0


500


1000


1500


2000


2500


1Q
2


00
7


3Q
2


00
7


1Q
2


00
8


3Q
2


00
8


1Q
2


00
9


3Q
2


00
9


1Q
2


01
0


3Q
2


01
0


1Q
2


01
1


3Q
2


01
1


1Q
2


01
2


3Q
2


01
2


20
13


B
as


is
P


o
in


ts


HY Index PCA VIX (RHA)


-4%


-2%


0%


2%


4%


6%


8%


10%


12%


2Q
2


00
2


4Q
2


00
2


2Q
2


00
3


4Q
2


00
3


2Q
2


00
4


4Q
2


00
4


2Q
2


00
5


4Q
2


00
5


2Q
2


00
6


4Q
2


00
6


2Q
2


00
7


4Q
2


00
7


2Q
2


00
8


4Q
2


00
8


2Q
2


00
9


4Q
2


00
9


2Q
2


01
0


4Q
2


01
0


2Q
2


01
1


4Q
2


01
1


2Q
2


01
2


4Q
2


01
2


20
13


GWI GDP SAM





16 | Latin America and the Caribbean as Tailwinds Recede: In Search of Higher Growth





Table 1.1. Estimating the Global Wind Index





Notes: Dependent variable for LAC-7: first principal component of the year over year real GDP growth for Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, and Uruguay
from 1Q 2001 to 3Q 2012 (47 observations). R2: 84.5 percent. Dependent variable for Central America: first principal component of the year over year real GDP growth for
Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Jamaica, Panama and El Salvador. R2: 84.7 percent. Dependent variable for South America & Mexico: first principal
component of the year over year real GDP growth for Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela. R2: 80.43 percent.
Independent variables: Risk (t-1) is the first principal component for the VIX index and the High Yield Spread Index lagged one quarter, Commodities (t-1) is the first
principal component for commodities lagged one quarter, G7’s Growth is the year over year growth rate of the G7 economies, China’s Growth (t-2) is the real GDP growth of
China lagged two quarters while Constant is the constant of the linear regression.



good idea of the direction in which global winds will be blowing in for the region in 2013. The
results are consistent with our priors: for SAM, the index remains relatively flat, going from 3.7
percent, the level reached by end-2012, to 3.9 percent in 2013. Results are similar for the CA group.
Thus, our estimates seem to indicate that the region will face neither tailwinds nor headwinds in the
near future, but rather a windless world.9

The interpretation of these results goes beyond a mere description of a short-term view of a world
where real and financial determinants lack a clear direction. Needless to say, the correlation between
the index and growth does not imply that economic performance in the region can be exclusively
attributed to external factors: at the very least, locals factors explain the significant deviations of
individual growth rates from the common trend. And our summary measure of global winds, by
focusing on risk premiums, may be leaving aside the benign effect of persistently low interest rates
levels that reduce the financing costs of (and channel investment flows into) emerging economies in
general. But these findings do highlight a quantitative difference between the strength of the
tailwinds in the last decade and the current global outlook. If in the period from late 2003 to mid-
2008 the global index of tailwinds for the SAM group oscillated around 6 percent, now it looks
comfortably settled in the 3.5-4 percent range—a step down, largely in line with the group´s recent
growth performance. The same is true for CA, which saw its own global index decline almost by half
since its 6 percent peak in 3Q 2007, and now faces 3.6 percent for the year.


9 A “windless world” is a situation in which global factors make regional growth rates remain stable at their average
levels. Tailwinds would be a situation where global factors accelerate regional growth rates to higher levels, and
headwinds would be a situation in which global factors decelerate regional growth rates, dragging them to relatively low
levels.


LAC-7


Coefficient -0.000048 0.016 0.292 0.487 0.011


p-value (0.000) (0.090 ) (0.006) (0.006) (0.563)


Central America


Coefficient -0.0000891 -0.011 0.053 0.246 0.046


p-value (0.000) (0.207) (0.647) (0.138) (0.016)


South America & Mexico


Coefficient -0.0000699 0.008 0.220 0.525 0.017


p-value (0.000) (0.497) (0.099) (0.018) (0.473)


Risk (t-1) Commodities (t-1) G7's Growth China's Growth (t-2) Constant





| 17




In short, the external factors that were closely linked to LAC’s growth performance in the recent
past seem now to be muted—neither facilitating robust growth rates as they did until mid-2008, nor
dragging down the region’s performance as they did in the global financial crisis. Everything else
equal, the world environment would now be consistent with growth rates that are about 2.5
percentage points lower than pre-crisis records. If Latin American countries want to go back to
those promising growth prints, or at least rise above current growth rates, they cannot rely on global
forces. They will need to look for growth engines within themselves.


Is LAC’s Growth Becoming More Idiosyncratic?


In the early 2000s the combination of solid external demand, ample global liquidity and, in the case
of commodity exporters, positive terms of trade shocks drove the growth-stability mix in Latin
America to historical highs. All of a sudden, in the period 2008-2009, the global crisis triggered a
severe slowdown in the region, followed by a quick rebound to near pre-crisis levels. In both cases,
the sheer intensity of these global swings simply dwarfed the idiosyncratic cross-country differences
in policies and fundamentals: as differences in economic policy performance blurred, much of the
macroeconomic action could be traced to external factors—a somewhat discouraging finding for
reform-oriented policymakers.

Not anymore: without global winds, countries are starting to show their differences, reflecting the
diversity in economic fundamentals and policies, as well as in the phase of the development cycle
they are in. For example, the residuals of a country-by-country regression of growth on global
drivers similar to the one reported in Table 1.1 have been growing since the 2010 recovery (Figure
1.3, Panel A). More precisely, the share of LAC growth that is not explained by common global
influences has been on the rise, first mirroring the diverse timing of the recovery from the 2009
slowdown, and now reflecting the different growth paths followed by individual economies in a
context where global determinants have cooled down or, as is often the case, cancel each other out.
Interestingly, the same can be said, even more so, for the rest of the world: growth divergence in
other regions has increased dramatically in the post-crisis period (Figure 1.3, Panel B).

The heterogeneous growth paths unmasked by this windless world are also illustrated by the 2013
growth estimates for countries in the LAC region (Figure 1.3, Panel C). Expected growth vary
from rates as low as 0.1 percent and 1 percent in Venezuela and Jamaica, to the “Asian-style” rates
of 6 percent for Peru, the 9 percent in Panama, or the 11 percent in Paraguay (bouncing back from a
negative 1 percent growth in 2012). Others, like Bolivia, Chile and Colombia, continue to beat the
regional average with reasonably robust and stable growth rates of 4-5 percent. By contrast, two of
LAC’s largest economies, Argentina and Brazil, continue to underperform the regional average
despite bouncing from rates below 2 percent in 2012 to expected rates of close to 3 percent in
2013—a comeback that in part reflects the recovery from a poor harvest in 2012.10

The heterogeneity within LAC is also evident when we compare pre-crisis growth rates with 2013
forecasts. Many of the top performers in the mid-2000s, like Argentina, Trinidad and Tobago, or
Venezuela, are among today’s underperformers. LAC’s two largest economies, Brazil and Mexico,



10 The 2013 growth projection for Argentina reflects the latest Consensus Forecast. However, recent developments
(such as the fire in YPF’s refinery in Ensenada) and adverse weather conditions might lead to a downward revision of
this number.





18 | Latin America and the Caribbean as Tailwinds Recede: In Search of Higher Growth




have also experienced a reversal of fortunes compared to the 2000s. The former, once hailed as one
of the most dynamic emerging economies of the 2000s, is now entangled in a low growth dynamic
that is proving harder to escape than initially thought. Mexico, in turn, which posted an
underwhelming 3 percent average annual growth in heights of the 2000s growth cycle and struggled
to consolidate its recovery in the aftermath of the global financial crisis, is now expected to print
above-average figures for a second year in a row.11
Should LAC worry about the persistence of this windless global environment? The answer to this
question depends on the role assigned to national policies. A priori, the new muted international

FIGURE 1.3. Is LAC’s Growth Becoming Less Global?


PANEL A. Deviations From the GWI PANEL B. Deviation From Average Growth
Selected Regions



PANEL C. Real GDP Growth and Forecasts Within LAC



Notes: Panel A contains the standard deviation by regions (LAC-7 and Central America & The Caribbean) of the residuals that result from regressing each country’s real
GDP annual growth rate against the independent variables of the Global Wind Index (GWI). Panel B illustrates the coefficients of variation (standard deviation (x) / mean
(x)) of the real GDP growth of the different regions. In Panel C, 2003 – 2007 is the average GDP growth for the countries in this period. Sources: LCRCE from Haver
Analytics, Consensus Forecasts (March 2013) and WEO (October 2012 and April 2013).



11 The change of heart over the Brazilian and the Mexican economies reflects to a large extent domestic dynamics and
structural issues such as the decisiveness with which each of these countries has tackled growth-enhancing structural
reforms. Nevertheless, global factors have also played a major role in the reversal observed over the past two years in
LAC’s largest economies: for example, rising labor costs in China and the steady recovery of the US relative to the EU


markets benefitted Mexican manufactures over Brazilian natural resource-intensive exports.


0%


1%


2%


3%


4%


5%


1Q
2


00
3


3Q
2


00
3


1Q
2


00
4


3Q
2


00
4


1Q
2


00
5


3Q
2


00
5


1Q
2


00
6


3Q
2


00
6


1Q
2


00
7


3Q
2


00
7


1Q
2


00
8


3Q
2


00
8


1Q
2


00
9


3Q
2


00
9


1Q
2


01
0


3Q
2


01
0


1Q
2


01
1


3Q
2


01
1


1Q
2


01
2


3Q
2


01
2


Standard Deviation of Residuals by Regions


LAC7 Central America


0.0


0.2


0.4


0.6


0.8


1.0


1.2


1.4


LAC7 PCE G7 SEA MICs EE MICs


Period Averages


1q 2005- 4q 2007 1q 2010 - 3q 2012


-2%


0%


2%


4%


6%


8%


10%


12%


V
en


ez
ue


la
, R


B


Ja
m


ai
ca


E
l S


al
va


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r


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ri


n
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ia


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liv
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h


ile


P
er


u


P
an


am
a


P
ar


ag
ua


y


2003-2007 2012 2013f





| 19




context is not necessarily bad news. The growing diversity of current and future growth prospects
within the region suggests that the ability of Latin American countries to grow at reasonably high
and noninflationary rates depend critically on themselves. Indeed, this soft new normal for the
external environment put a premium on local policy over external shocks—or luck—as the key
determinant of growth. This should introduce the right incentives to adopt long planning horizons
and undertake reform strategies that go beyond the short run.

With that in mind, the change in the global landscape is also a reason to take stock and reassess
some of the most relevant singularities of Latin American growth, as well as its limitations, as an
essential first step towards understanding the ways in which Latin America can consolidate the
growth with social equity achievements of the past decade and move forward. The next chapter is
our preliminary attempt in this direction.


Box 1.1 Currency Wars and Nominal Cushions in LAC-7


Two concerns have been at the center of the macroeconomic policy debate in LAC in the post-
global crisis environment. On the one hand, the fact that, after the counter cyclical effort in 2009,
LAC economics may now enjoy a narrower monetary margin to cope with additional global
headwinds if they eventually materialize. On the other hand, the incidence of expansionary
monetary policy in advanced countries (the US, Japan and, more recently, the EU) on global
liquidity and, particularly, on the direction of international capital flows.

The first concern relates to the monetary muscle that Latin American economies can count on in
the event of renewed global distress or if the local growth momentum stalls. On this front, there
are differing views. Now that Brazil, after years of exhibiting by far the highest real interest rate
among the LAC-7, has finally brought down its policy rate (the SELIC), real interest rates in LAC’s
inflation targeters (Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, and Uruguay) lie within the 1-3 percent
range (Figure B1.1, Panels A and B). And inflation, while still stubbornly above the midpoint of
the target zone in Brazil and Uruguay, remains in general anchored. Does that mean that these
countries now have a more limited scope for monetary action? Not necessarily. Real interest rates
are now lower than prior to the crisis, but remain clearly in positive territory and have not declined
vis-a-vis the rest of the world. Perhaps more importantly, they are still high in nominal terms:
inflation rates in the LAC inflation targeters are generally above those in advanced economies,
from a high of 8.5 percent in Uruguay and 6.3 percent in Brazil to the low of 2.6 percent of Peru
(the exceptions are Chile and Colombia, with 1.3 percent and 1.8 percent, respectively).
Accordingly, inflation targets (and nominal interest rates) are all above the 2 percent ECB ceiling
or the 2.5 percent mark recently set by the FED as its quantitative-easing comfort zone: the tighter
inflation target zone, Peru’s, goes from 1 to 3 percent. This may be a blessing in disguise should
global turmoil materialize: real interest rates in LAC inflation targeters still have a long way down
to go should further monetary stimulus be needed. And from a countercyclical policy perspective,
real interest rates are currently close to neutral levels consistent with a moderate-to-fast growth
performance, and have room to decrease if activity slows down—even in Brazil, where the new
lower SELIC is still in a testing phase and may be temporarily hiked, albeit slightly, to
accommodate inflation pressures.

A second macroeconomic concern is associated with the so-called “currency war”, a term that
refers to the substantial monetary easing initiated by the Fed in 2009 (soon followed by other





20 | Latin America and the Caribbean as Tailwinds Recede: In Search of Higher Growth




FIGURE B.1.1. Terms of Trade, Exchange Rates, and Monetary Policy in Post-Crisis LAC


PANEL A. Real Monetary Policy Rates PANEL B. Nominal Monetary Policy Rates



PANEL C. Terms of Trade PANEL D. Nominal Exchange Rates



PANEL E. Reserves and REER PANEL F. Real Effective Exchange Rates



Notes: In Panel A, real rates are calculated deflating the nominal policy rates in Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, and Uruguay with the 12-month inflation expectations.
In Panel B shaded areas represent forecasts. In Panel C, Rest of SA & Mexico: Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador, Mexico, and Paraguay. Central America: Costa Rica,
Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. In Panel D, Rest of SA & Mexico excludes Bolivia; and Central America excludes El Salvador.
Panel E represents accumulated changes in the international reserves and the real effective exchange rate through January 2007-June 2008, and January 2012-December 2012.
Panel F is an index of the real effective exchange rates, where an increase means appreciation. In Panel F, Rest of SA and Mexico excludes Argentina and Ecuador. Sources:
Bloomberg, GEM, IDB, and IFS.




-4%


-2%


0%


2%


4%


6%


8%


10%


20
07


20
09


20
11


LAC-IT


Min-Max Range
Simple Average


Ja
n


-1
2


F
eb


-1
2


M
ar


-1
2


A
p


r-
12


M
ay


-1
2


Ju
n


-1
2


Ju
l-


12


A
ug


-1
2


Se
p


-1
2


O
ct


-1
2


N
o


v-
12


D
ec


-1
2


2007-2011 Previous 12 months


0%


2%


4%


6%


8%


10%


12%


14%


16%


18%


20
07


20
09


20
11


Brazil Chile


Colombia Mexico


Peru Uruguay


Ja
n


-1
2


M
ar


-1
2


M
ay


-1
2


Ju
l-


12


Se
p


-1
2


N
o


v-
12


Ja
n


-1
3


M
ar


-1
3


M
ay


-1
3


Ju
l-


13


Se
p


-1
3


N
o


v-
13


Ja
n


-1
4


Previous 12 Months2007-2011


50


100


150


200


250


300


20
03


20
05


20
07


20
09


20
11


Index 2000=100


Chile & Peru


Brazil & Colombia


Rest of SA & Mexico


Central America


Uruguay


Ja
n


-1
2


M
ar


-1
2


M
ay


-1
2


Ju
l-


12


Se
p


-1
2


2003-2011 January-October 2012


50


70


90


110


130


150


170


190


210


230


250


20
03


20
05


20
07


20
09


20
11


Index Jan 2003=100


Chile & Peru
Brazil & Colombia
Rest of SA & Mexico
Central America
Uruguay


Ja
n


-1
2


M
ar


-1
2


M
ay


-1
2


Ju
l-


12


Se
p


-1
2


N
o


v-
12


Ja
n


-1
3


Previous 12 months2003-2011


Bolivia


BrazilColombia


Mexico


Uruguay


Chile
Bolivia


Brazil


Colombia


Mexico
Uruguay


Chile


-15%


-10%


-5%


0%


5%


10%


15%


20%


25%


0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% 120% 140% 160%


P
er


ce
n


ta
g


e
C


h
an


g
e


in
t


h
e


R
E


E
R


Percentage Change in the International Reserves


Jan 2007-June 2008
Jan 2012-Dec 2012


80


100


120


140


160


180


200


20
03


20
04


20
05


20
06


20
07


20
08


20
09


20
10


20
11


Index 2003=100


Brazil & Colombia


Chile


Rest of SA & Mexico


Central America


Uruguay





| 21




developed countries) and the ensuing tsunami of dollars (and yens and, possibly, Euros) flowing
from low-interest rate, low-growth core economies to high-interest rate, fast-growing emerging
economies. These capital inflows can threaten to choke the production of tradable goods in
recipient countries through an excessive real exchange rate appreciation. While this scenario may
have been a more precise characterization of the period of quick global rebound (and, perhaps
even more so, of the pre-crisis capital bonanza), the past six months painted a more nuanced
picture, with fairly stable terms of trade and exchange rates, and a moderation of foreign exchange
intervention and reserve accumulation (Figure B1.1, Panels C, D, and E). This relative stability,
naturally, does little to undo the past: countries like Brazil and Colombia and, more recently,
Uruguay face significantly appreciated real multilateral exchange rates compared to the levels of
the early 2000s (Figure B1.1, Panel F). Not surprisingly, these are the countries where “fear of
appreciation” represents a clear and present danger to economic performance. And, while the
consensus view indicates that further nominal appreciation (that is, another round in the currency
war) is not likely in the cards, there are no grounds to believe that the situation would be reversed
any time soon.

What to do? The answer would depend, among other things, on the source and persistence of the
real appreciation pressure. As we argue in more detail below, capital flows in most LAC have been
primarily FDI flows. But in a few countries (Brazil in 2011, more recently Colombia and Uruguay)
portfolio investment is often almost as important as FDI (Figure B.1.2). And while FDI flows
tend to finance imports of capital and intermediate goods, thereby cancelling out part of the
currency effect, portfolio flows can only be mitigated through sterilized interventions: typically,
through central bank sales of local currency paper in exchange for the foreign currency flows,
thereby meeting the speculative demand for local assets without altering the money supply.
Indeed, The Central Bank does not need to be alone in this effort: a similar effect could be
achieved if it is the Treasury that sells local currency debt to buy the inflows, and use the latter to
prepay external debt or to invest in foreign assets (as in the Chilean Copper Fund).12 There is no
reason to restrict this option to fiscal surplus countries: any government could in principle
attenuate appreciation by buying dollar assets with peso debt, increasing the long foreign currency
position of its balance sheet. The cost and effectiveness of these interventions would depend,
again, on the nature of the flows. If real appreciation pressures are permanent or very persistent,
intervention amounts to taking the wrong side of a currency carry trade, and the fiscal cost
ultimately realizes in the form of valuation losses on the government’s dollar holdings. However, if
portfolio inflows are seen as the transitory consequence of transitory policies abroad (such as
quantitative monetary easing in the North) then a leaning-against-the-wind policy of “buying in the
dips” (namely, selling peso debt to buy dollar assets) should not be so costly over a medium term
horizon and could even be profitable if the interest rate differential is not too large and the
transitory flows reverse (Cárdenas and Levy Yeyati, 2011).

In sum, in most LAC economies, the combination of subdued capital inflows and positive real
interest rates should dispel doubts about the space of monetary policy to play its stabilizing role.
But portfolio inflows are still a serious policy concern in a few countries, where options beyond
central bank FX intervention should probably be considered.



12


In practice, the Central Bank seldom issues its own paper; rather, it mops up the monetary expansion form its dollar
purchases by reducing its stock of Treasury securities. Alternatively, the government could resort to sand-in-the-wheel
measures to fend off inflows, such as capital controls, Tobin taxes or differential reserve requirements. See Cárdenas and
Levy Yeyati (2011) for a taxonomy.





22 | Latin America and the Caribbean as Tailwinds Recede: In Search of Higher Growth




FIGURE B.1.2. Composition of Net Inflows




Note: The Panel represents the accumulated foreign direct investment, portfolio investment and other investment net inflows, from 3Q 2011 to 2Q 2012 as a share of the total of
these inflows. The definition of inflows is according to the Sixth Edition of the IMF's Balance of Payments and International Investment Position Manual. Source: IFS.











-100%


-50%


0%


50%


100%


150%


200%


3Q
2


00
9-


2Q
2


01
1


2Q
2


01
1-


1Q
2


01
2


3Q
2


00
9-


2Q
2


01
1


3Q
2


01
1-


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2


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2


00
9-


2Q
2


01
1


3Q
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01
1-


2Q
2


01
2


3Q
2


00
9-


2Q
2


01
1


3Q
2


01
1-


2Q
2


01
2


3Q
2


00
9-


2Q
2


01
1


3Q
2


01
1-


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2


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2


3Q
2


00
9-


2Q
2


01
1


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2


01
1-


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2


01
2


3Q
2


00
9-


2Q
2


01
1


3Q
2


01
1-


2Q
2


01
2


Uruguay Peru Mexico Brazil Argentina Chile Colombia


Percentage of Total Inflows


FDI Portfolio Other





| 23




Chapter 2:
Searching for the Latin American Path to Growth

The new normal described in the previous section poses a challenge for Latin America and the
Caribbean (LAC): to find its own way to tread these calmer waters without losing the growth
momentum gained in the good times. But how can a region that has been historically bounded to
per capita growth rates that have not systematically exceeded those in the advance economies break
free from its own past and turn on the domestic engines of growth for good?13

Answering this question is far from trivial, as it requires a detailed understanding of the distinct
characteristics of LAC’s economies. In other words, to reach a path of sustained high growth in the
future we must start by understanding what distinguishes LAC’s current economic pattern, its
strengths and its limitations.14 But the story does not end there. A complete roadmap of LAC’s
transformation to a high growth region would demand a deep analysis of the reforms needed to
unblock the traditional bottlenecks that have maintained the region’s productivity stagnant, an
analysis that deserves a report of its own and goes beyond the scope of this chapter.15

Here, we aim at a more modest goal: a broad characterization of LAC’s economic performance in
the past decade. To do that, we proceed in steps. First, we distinguish the two LACs: on the one
hand, one rich in natural resources and main beneficiary of the boom in commodity prices, which
includes LAC-7 but also other South American commodity exporters such as Bolivia, Ecuador or
Uruguay; on the other hand, commodity-importing Central America and most of the Caribbean.

Next, we look into the composition of demand and supply over time to highlight three nontrivial
aspects that had the first group of countries “playing against character” (that is, against the
conventional view of commodity export-led growth). The first of these aspects is the prevalence
domestic over external demand, despite the historically high terms of trade experienced by many
LAC countries throughout the 2000s. The second aspect is the source of financing of LAC’s
growing domestic demand, particularly the links between FDI inflows, imports and factor
payments that underlie LAC´s growing net factor payments abroad and negative current account
balances. Finally, we document the gradual process of “tertiarization” (the growing importance of
the service sector in the creation of value added, in contrast with, albeit related to, the
“primarization” of goods exports).

Although we discuss each of these three aspects sequentially, they should be seen as a whole that
describes the LAC-specific modality of aggregate economic growth that stands in sharp contrast
with that of the East Asian countries. Ultimately, this characterization, while still at the descriptive
level, should illuminate the way in which in the 2000s the supportive global factors were metabolized



13 LAC’s 20th century economic history has been characterized, among other things, by a lack of convergence towards
high-income living standards (more specifically in terms of per capita GDP), in contrast with the experience of the so-
called East Asian Tigers. For a detailed discussion of LAC’s “100 years of solitude” (namely, its lack of convergence), see


the October 2011 report in this series “LAC’s Long-Term Growth: Made in China?”


14 A characterization of LAC’s connections to the world and the limitations of such connections was done in the
October 2011 report in this series “LAC’s Long-Term Growth: Made in China?”


15 Pagés-Serra (2010) provides a broad exploration of this point.





24 | Latin America and the Caribbean as Tailwinds Recede: In Search of Higher Growth




by most LAC countries to substitute for their historically low savings and capital accumulation. And
looking forward, it should point at the limits and challenges that the region faces to keep the engine
running.


Domestic-Led Growth: The Latin American Path


If one thing stands out when we compare the composition of aggregate demand in LAC to that of
other emerging regions, it is the prevalence of domestic over external demand. For all the debate
about the commodity boom in the 2000s, the fact is that the improvements in the current accounts
of LAC´s commodity exporters was in most cases rather short lived: current account surpluses were
virtually gone by mid-2008, and only temporarily recovered in 2009 as an undesired consequence of
the global trade collapse. At any rate, by end-2011, only Bolivia and Venezuela (2 out of the 11 Latin
American commodity exporters) were able to show a current account balance in positive territory.
Indeed, rather than the traditional natural resource-driven Dutch Disease, the broad picture of the
external front looks closer to a case of “financial” Dutch Disease caused by sustained inflows of
capital that fueled domestic demand, put appreciating pressures on the exchange rate, and boosted
import competing activities.16

For an accurate comparative picture of the level and evolution of domestic demand and its
components in LAC we make two methodological choices. First, we use real values for GDP as well
as for each of its components: consumption, investment, exports, and imports. That is, each
component is deflated by its respective deflator. Since real variables are sensitive to the choice of
base year, we use national accounts data collected by the U.N. Statistics Office and reported in the
same base year, making real values comparable across countries. Therefore the shares of, say,
investment and other components of domestic demand we use differ from the commonly used
nominal shares that are shown in other publications including previous reports in this series.
Working with these real values is essential to get an accurate picture of aggregate demand dynamics
in times of significant changes in terms of trade. For example, when terms of trade rise, the share of
investment to GDP will be underestimated by nominal variables because the denominator (GDP)
contains exports, whose price are rising, while the numerator (investment) will contain imports,
whose price are falling relative to the price of exports.

The second methodological choice, already mentioned, is the distinction we make throughout the
analysis between South America and Mexico (henceforth, SAM) and Central America (CA).17 In the
latter group, real domestic demand has been typically large despite low and declining investment,
reflecting the incidence of consumption shares (close to 80 percent and growing) traditionally
funded by a solid and stable flow of remittances. In SAM, by contrast, real domestic demand as
share of GDP has grown by about 5 percentage points since the late 90s (Figure 2.1, Panel A).



16 The term “Dutch Disease” was originally coined by The Economist in 1973 to refer to the decline of the manufacturing
sector in the Netherlands after the discovery of a large natural gas field in 1959, and is often used to refer to an increase
in revenues from the booming primary sector that appreciates the currency, resulting in a loss of competitiveness (and,
ultimately, a decline in production) in the lagging manufacturing sector. It is useful to distinguish between the traditional
Duth Disease in which a growing trade surplus in the primary sector offsets a growing trade deficit in the manufacturing
sector, as the real exchange rate adjusts, from a “financial” Dutch Disease driven by capital inflows such as FDI and
portfolio flows at the expense of a generalized loss of competitiveness and a current account deficit. See Cárdenas and
Levy Yeyati (2011).
17 We exclude Caribbean countries from this analysis because of the lack of consistent and comparable data.





| 25




FIGURE 2.1. A Comparative Look at LAC’s Growth Pattern: The Demand Side


PANEL A. Domestic Demand PANEL B. Net Exports



PANEL C. Private Consumption PANEL D. Exports



PANEL E. Investment PANEL F. Imports



Notes: Demand components are measured in constant 2005 LCUs. SAM: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru, Paraguay, Uruguay.
Venezuela is excluded due to the large spike in investment in the period we study, which distorts the regional averages. CA: Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador,
Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. Caribbean: Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados, Grenada, Jamaica, Saint Kitts & Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent & the Grenadines,
Suriname and The Bahamas. SEA MICs: Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, South Korea, and Thailand. EE MICs: Croatia, Estonia, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland,
Romania, Slovakia and Turkey. PCE: Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Norway and Sweden. For the Caribbean we have used the nominal share of demand components
over GDP, for the latest available year, given the lack of comparable data in real terms. Source: LCRCE from UN Statistics.


90%


95%


100%


105%


110%


115%


SAM excl. Ven CA Caribbean SEA MICs EE MICs PCE


Percentage of GDP - Simple Averages


2001-2004 2005-2008


2008-2009 2010-2011


-15%


-10%


-5%


0%


5%


10%


SAM excl. Ven CA Caribbean SEA MICs EE MICs PCE


Percentage of GDP - Simple Averages


2001-2004 2005-2008


2008-2009 2010-2011


50%


55%


60%


65%


70%


75%


80%


SAM excl. Ven CA Caribbean SEA MICs EE MICs PCE


Percentage of GDP - Simple Averages


2001-2004 2005-2008


2008-2009 2010-2011


15%


25%


35%


45%


55%


65%


SAM excl. Ven CA Caribbean SEA MICs EE MICs PCE


Percentage of GDP - Simple Averages


2001-2004 2005-2008


2008-2009 2010-2011


15%


17%


19%


21%


23%


25%


27%


29%


SAM excl. Ven CA Caribbean SEA MICs EE MICs PCE


Percentage of GDP - Simple Averages


2001-2004 2005-2008


2008-2009 2010-2011


15%


25%


35%


45%


55%


65%


SAM excl. Ven CA Caribbean SEA MICs EE MICs PCE


Percentage of GDP - Simple Averages


2001-2004 2005-2008


2008-2009 2010-2011





26 | Latin America and the Caribbean as Tailwinds Recede: In Search of Higher Growth




The uniqueness of SAM’s domestic demand pattern becomes clearer when we compare it to other


regions. First, SAM countries, together with other peripheral core countries (PCEs), are among the
few to exhibit a steady growth in domestic demand since the mid-1990s. 18 Second, the large
prevalence of domestic demand, as opposed to external demand, contrasts with what we observe in
other emerging regions like the South East Asian MICs (SEA). Part of the comparatively higher
domestic demand observed in SAM relative to other regions can be explained by the large share of
GDP accounted for by private consumption: SAM’s consumption share stands close to 67 percent
(only beaten by CA’s 75 percent) while in other economies this ratio goes, on average, from 55
percent in the PCEs to 61 percent in Eastern European MICs (EE) (Figure 2.1, Panel C). Even
the investment to GDP ratio, once LAC’s Achilles heel when it comes to growth, has been on the
rise, increasing by about 5 percentage points since the early 2000s and reaching levels closer to those
observed in other emerging economies and the PCEs by the late 2000s (Figure 2.1, Panel E).19
And while the evolution of consumption shares within SAM has not been homogenous (private
consumption shares grew significantly in Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Mexico, and Paraguay, but remained
stable or declined in Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, Peru, and Uruguay), investment ratios increased
across the board, albeit from modest levels (Figure 2.2).20


FIGURE 2.2. Benchmarking the Composition of LAC’s Real Domestic Demand



Note: Consumption, Investment and GDP are in real terms, in constant 2005 LCUs. SAM: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru,
Paraguay, and Uruguay. Venezuela is excluded due to the large spike in investment in the period we study. CA: Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala,
and Honduras and Nicaragua. PCE: Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Norway, and Sweden. Rest: Croatia, Estonia, Hungary, Indonesia, Lithuania, Malaysia,
Philippines, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, South Korea, Thailand, and Turkey. Source: LCRCE from UN Statistics.



18 Throughout this chapter we will benchmark LAC’s performance against four regions: Eastern European MIC’s,
comprised by Croatia, Estonia, Hungary, Lithuania , Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and Turkey, East Asian MIC’s
comprised by Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Republic of Korea, and Thailand; Peripheral Core Economies (PCEs)
comprised by Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Norway, and Sweden.


19 Notice that most of the increase in SAM’s real investment to GDP ratio occurred in the second half of the 2000s. If
we took the average for the decade as whole the differences between SAM and other regions would be larger.


20 Public consumption shares remained generally stable in real terms throughout the period.


ARG


BOL


BRA


CHL
COL


ECU


MEX


PRY


PER


URY


CRI


DOM


SLV


GTM


HND


NIC


IND


KOR


MYS PHI


AUS


CAN


NZL


NOR
SWE


HRV


HUN


LTH


POL


ROM


SLO


TUR


THA


-10%


-5%


0%


5%


10%


15%


-10% -5% 0% 5% 10% 15% 20%


In
v


e
st


m
e


n
t


Consumption


Share of GDP; Change from 2001 - 2004 to 2010 - 2011


SAM


CA


PCE


Rest


F
a


ll
in


g


Rising Falling


R
is


in
g






| 27




Perhaps as a result of the strong domestic demand, these countries remain relatively closed, with
export and import ratios below their peers (Figure 2.1, Panels B, D, and F) and, despite the
commodity boom, net exports contributed negatively to growth in the 2000s in virtually all SAM
economies (Figure 2.3). This does not deny the positive contribution of exports; rather, it reflects a
mix of slowly growing export volumes with fast-growing import volumes (as noted, facilitated by


FIGURE 2.3. Domestic Demand, Exports and Imports: Contributions to GDP Growth


PANEL A. LAC



PANEL B. East Asian MICs



Notes: Components of domestic demand, exports, imports, and GDP are in real terms, in constant 2005 LCUs. Venezuela is excluded due to the large spike in investment in
the period we study. GDP Growth corresponds to the accumulated growth between 2003 and 2011 while Domestic Demand, Exports, Import and Net Exports stand for their
respective accumulated contribution to GDP growth in the same period. Source: LCRCE from UN Statistics.


-60%


-40%


-20%


0%


20%


40%


60%


80%


100%


120%


A
rg


en
ti


n
a


B
o


li
v


ia


B
ra


zi
l


C
h


ile


C
o


lo
m


b
ia


C
o


st
a


R
ic


a


D
o


m
.


R
ep


.


E
cu


ad
o


r


E
l


S
al


v
ad


o
r


G
u


at
em


al
a


H
o


n
d


u
ra


s


M
ex


ic
o


N
ic


ar
ag


u
a


P
ar


ag
u


ay


P
er


u


U
ru


gu
ay


Accumulated Contribution to GDP Growth - 2003 to 2011


Domestic Demand Exports
Imports Net Exports
GDP Growth


-60%


-40%


-20%


0%


20%


40%


60%


80%


100%


120%


In
d


o
n


es
ia


M
al


ay
si


a


P
h


il
ip


p
in


es


S
o


u
th


K
o


re
a


T
h


ai
la


n
d


Accumulated Contribution to GDP Growth - 2003 to 2011


Domestic Demand Exports


Imports Net Exports


GDP Growth





28 | Latin America and the Caribbean as Tailwinds Recede: In Search of Higher Growth




larger export prices and mostly related with capital and intermediate goods). And highlights that the
major terms of trade gains experienced by LAC’s commodity exporting countries were transformed
into a growth dynamics centered in domestic spending, both on domestically produced goods as
well as on imports. It is in that sense that, at least at a descriptive level, one could start to define the
common traces of LAC’s growth pattern as a domestic demand-led growth, in contrast with the
export-led growth model characteristic of Asian tigers, old and new.

Where did LAC’s commodity-induced trade balance improvement go? How to square the terms of
trade gains in most of SAM countries with the tendency for their external current accounts to be in
deficit? How are the rising domestic demand and the associated current account deficit being
funded? And how were the global tailwinds channeled into domestic demand expansion?


Box 2.1. Consumption, Investment, and the Rise of the Middle Classes: Cause, Effect or
Coincidence?


What was behind this domestic demand-driven growth in many SAM countries? Was the rise of the
middle classes one of its causes, or was it rather the effect of the deepening of credit markets or
generalized rise in incomes due to a decade of solid growth? We address this question distinguishing
between consumption, which has been growing unevenly within the group, and investment, which
has strengthened across the board.

Regarding consumption, from the combination of the pent up demand from the new middle classes
(the rise of which has been documented extensively in our 2012 regional flagship study titled
Economic Mobility and the Rise of the Latin American Middle Class)21 with the pro-consumer finance bias
of the new banking business model (discussed at length in our 2011 regional flagship study titled
Financial Development in Latin America and the Caribbean: the Road Ahead), one would expect a change in
the consumption basket of the average household: less food, more non tradable (services) and
durables. Indeed, a quick look at automobile sales points in this direction (Figure B.2.1, Panels A
and B). The same can be said of the growth of household (and consumption) credit as a share of
total credit, despite the rather minor rise in mortgage lending (Figure B.2.1, Panels C and D). In
this light, one could think a priori that consumption shares were pushed higher by a mix of higher
income, fewer poor households and a broader middle class (all reflections of the same pattern: pro-
poor growth that reduces poverty and inequality, as shown in Figure B.2.2, Panel A), aided in
varying doses by a deepening, pro-consumer financial system (driven by nominal stability and by the
recent trend in banking towards consumer lending, and away from corporate lending).

How does this hypothesis fare in the data? Table B.2.1 reports the results of panel regressions of
consumption shares over per capita income, the share of the middle class in total population and
different credit measures. The results are mixed. The consumption share appears to be explained by
the increase in per capita GDP: the income elasticity of consumption is not significantly higher in
SAM than elsewhere (column 1) and the share of middle class and the household credit-to-GDP
ratios are negatively correlated with consumption once per capita income is controlled for.



21 Our regional flagship studies can be found at www.worldbank.org/laceconomist





| 29




FIGURE B.2.1 Consumption and Credit


PANEL A. Evolution of Automobile Sales
Across regions


PANEL B. Auto Sales and Consumption



PANEL C. Evolution of Credit in LAC-7 PANEL D. Composition of Credit in LAC-7



Notes: In Panel A LAC includes Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Venezuela, SEA: Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, South Korea,
and Thailand, EE: Estonia, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Turkey, PCE: Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Norway. In
Panel B, SAM: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, and Mexico. PCE: Australia, Canada, New Zealand and Norway. Rest: Estonia, Hungary,
Indonesia, Lithuania, Malaysia, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, South Korea, Thailand, and Turkey. Sources: LCRCE from Bloomberg,
Haver Analytics and National Statistical Bureaus.


When we replicate the exercise for investment ratios, the latter does appear to be more sensitive to
income in SAM although, again, it does not respond significantly to neither the rise of middle class
or to variations in total credit-to-GDP ratio. In short, a first pass at the determinants of
consumption and investment in SAM suggest that they reflected mainly the consequences of rapid
growth in the 2000s, consistent with the evidence for a broader group of countries. The
concomitant suggestion is that the substantial reduction in poverty and rise of the middle class were
likely to have been the effect rather than the cause of the rapid, domestic demand-driven growth.


Income equality without savings: Wealth inequality?

One question behind the significant reduction of income inequality throughout the region is whether
it translated into a more equal distribution of wealth. In other words, how much of the relative rise
in income of the low and middle classes was saved for the rainy days (or for retirement) or invested
in the children’s education, as opposed to consumed or, in the worst case, pledged and leveraged


50


100


150


200


250


300


350


400


450


500


D
ec-02


Jun
-03


D
ec-03


Jun
-04


D
ec-04


Jun
-05


D
ec-05


Jun
-06


D
ec-06


Jun
-07


D
ec-07


Jun
-08


D
ec-08


Jun
-09


D
ec-09


Jun
-10


D
ec-10


Jun
-11


D
ec-11


Jun
-12


D
ec-12


Twelve Months Moving Average
Jan 2003 = 100


LAC SEA EE PCE


ARG


BRA


CHL


COL


MEX


CAN


AUS
NZL


NOR


EST


HUN


LTU


POL


ROM


SLO


TUR


IND


KOR


MYS


PHI


THA


-6%


-4%


-2%


0%


2%


4%


6%


8%


-100% -50% 0% 50% 100% 150% 200%


C
h


a
n


g
e


in
C


o
n


su
m


p
ti


o
n


/
G


D
P


Percentate Change in Auto Sales


Average 2003 - 2007 vs Average 2010 - 2011


SAM
PCE
Rest


30%


35%


40%


45%


50%


55%


60%


65%


70%


2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011


Percentage of Total Credit


Household Corporate


2%


4%


6%


8%


10%


12%


14%


16%


2%


3%


4%


5%


6%


7%


8%


1995


1996


1997


1998


1999


2000


2001


2002


2003


2004


2005


2006


2007


2008


2009


2010


2011


Percentage of GDP


Consumption Mortgage Industry Retail (RHA)





30 | Latin America and the Caribbean as Tailwinds Recede: In Search of Higher Growth




FIGURE B.2.2. Income Growth and Consumption Across Income Groups


PANEL A. Incidence Curves in LAC PANEL B. Consumption of TV’s



PANEL C. House Ownership PANEL D. Car Ownership



Notes: In Panel A each bar represents the annualized growth of income for each income group and country. In Panels B-D each bar represents the change
in the share of households owning TV’s, houses, and cars for each income group and country. Source: LCSPP and LCRCE from SEDLAC



through the banking system to finance even greater consumption (that is, spent in advance). This
is particularly relevant to address the vulnerability of the middle class to a cyclical slowdown with
a concomitant decline in real wages and employment—already a policy concern in countries like
Brazil where relatively low growth now coexists with low unemployment and high household
indebtedness.

The reason why this question has not been empirically addressed is simple: we do not have
detailed information about assets holdings of households by income level. But a cursory look at
micro data from household surveys gives a flavor of the problem. Figure B.2.2, Panels B-D
show, for selected LAC countries, the change in the share of households that own consumer
durables and property, by income quintile. As can be seen, with a few exceptions, TV’s have
become common across the board (particularly in low income households), and the same applies,
to a smaller degree, to cars. However, the housing ownership share has declined in most
countries. Inasmuch as housing is the quintessential savings vehicles of the middle classes, this
very preliminary evidence flags a potential downside of measuring the rise of the middle class
exclusively based on current income. Is it possible that, because of the lack of appealing savings


-10%


-5%


0%


5%


10%


15%
A


rg
en


ti
n


a


B
o


liv
ia


B
ra


zi
l


C
h


ile


C
o


lo
m


b
ia


C
o


st
a


R
ic


a


R
ep


. D
o


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.


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ua


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as


M
ex


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P
an


am
a


P
ar


ag
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P
er


u


U
ru


gu
ay


V
en


ez
ue


la


A
n


n
u


al
iz


ed
g


ro
w


th


Changes between early 2000s to late 2000s


quintile 1 quintile 2 quintile 3 quintile 4 quintile 5


-5%


0%


5%


10%


15%


20%


25%


30%


B
o


liv
ia


B
ra


zi
l


C
o


lo
m


b
ia


C
o


st
a


R
ic


a


D
o


m
. R


ep
.


E
cu


ad
o


r


E
l S


al
va


d
o


r


G
ua


te
m


al
a


H
o


n
d


ur
as


M
ex


ic
o


P
ar


ag
ua


y


P
er


u


Changes between early 2000s to late 2000s


quintile 1 quintile 2 quintile 3 quintile 4 quintile 5


-20%


-15%


-10%


-5%


0%


5%


10%


15%


20%


A
rg


en
ti


n
a


B
o


liv
ia


B
ra


zi
l


C
h


ile


C
o


lo
m


b
ia


C
o


st
a


R
ic


a


D
o


m
. R


ep
.


E
cu


ad
o


r


E
l S


al
va


do
r


G
ua


te
m


al
a


H
o


n
d


ur
as


M
ex


ic
o


P
ar


ag
ua


y


P
er


u


U
ru


gu
ay


V
en


ez
ue


la
Changes between early 2000s to late 2000s


quintile 1 quintile 2 quintile 3 quintile 4 quintile 5


-10%


-8%


-6%


-4%


-2%


0%


2%


4%


6%


8%


10%


12%


B
o


liv
ia


C
o


lo
m


b
ia


C
o


st
a


R
ic


a


D
o


m
. R


ep
.


E
cu


ad
o


r


E
l S


al
va


do
r


H
o


n
d


ur
as


M
ex


ic
o


P
ar


ag
ua


y


P
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u


V
en


ez
ue


la


Changes between early 2000s to late 2000s


quintile 1 quintile 2 quintile 3 quintile 4 quintile 5





| 31




instruments, middle class income gains are largely consumed and, hence, ultimately tend to accrue
to corporate profitability (and corporate shareholders) leading to a regressive redistribution of
wealth? While we wait for the data, we can only speculate that a deepening of the mortgage
market that redirects income away from durables and into housing should help mitigate this
potential downside.


Table B.2.1 Determinants of Consumption in LAC












The Other Side of Domestic Demand-Led Growth: FDI, Imports
and Dividends


Latin America has often been described as a commodity exporting region benefitting from a super
cycle of terms of trade gains. However, a quick look at the external sector shows that, despite the
unprecedented commodity bonanza prior to the 2008 slowdown, the region exhibited, on average,
only modest and rapidly declining current account surpluses. Indeed, right before the global financial
crisis, with commodities and terms of trade at all-time highs, LAC-6 recorded an average current
account deficit of 1.3 percent of GDP in 2008, marking a trend that was temporarily contained and
reversed thanks to the collapse of global imports and the contraction of aggregate demand during
the crisis, but that was already back on track by end-2009 (Figure 2.4.A).




(1) (2) (3) (4)


VARIABLES C/GDP C/GDP I/GDP I/GDP


Full Sample SAM Full Sample SAM


Per capita GDP 1.67e-06** 1.43e-05*** 2.72e-06*** 6.38e-06*


(0.000000685) (0.00000367) (0.000000688) (0.00000294)


Per capita GDP * SAM Dummy 4.15E-06


6.34e-06***


(0.0000038)
(0.00000212)


Middle Class


0.00383***


0.000653



(0.000911)



(0.000917)


Credit/GDP


-8.51e-05***


0.0000226



(0.0000203)



(0.0000169)


Constant 0.608*** 0.631*** 0.163*** 0.117***


(0.0126) (0.0263) (0.00873) (0.0262)


Observations 567 72 573 67


R-squared 0.11 0.373 0.186 0.291


Number of countries 32 7 32 6
Note: Clustered standard errors in parentheses *** p<0.01, ** p<0.05, * p<0.1. For each specification, dependent variables are shown in the first row of the table and
independent variables are shown in the first column of the table. All regressions are estimated using a panel regression approach using EE MICs, LAC, PCE, and SEA
MICs countries with available data from 1990 to 2010.






32 | Latin America and the Caribbean as Tailwinds Recede: In Search of Higher Growth




FIGURE 2.4.A. The External Side of LAC’s Domestic-Driven Growth: Benchmarking
LAC’s Balance of Payments


PANEL A. LAC-6 Current Account PANEL B. LAC-6 Financial Account



PANEL C. SEA MICs Current Account PANEL D. SEA MICs Financial Account



PANEL E. PCE Current Account PANEL F. PCE Financial Account



Notes: In Panels B, D, and F positive values of the financial account represent inflows. LAC -6: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru. SEA MICs:
Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, South Korea, and Thailand. PCE: Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Norway, and Sweden. Source: LCRCE from IFS.


-14%


-12%


-10%


-8%


-6%


-4%


-2%


0%


2%


4%


6%


8%


10%


12%


14%


1Q
2


00
5


3Q
2


00
5


1Q
2


00
6


3Q
2


00
6


1Q
2


00
7


3Q
2


00
7


1Q
2


00
8


3Q
2


00
8


1Q
2


00
9


3Q
2


00
9


1Q
2


01
0


3Q
2


01
0


1Q
2


01
1


3Q
2


01
1


1Q
2


01
2


Percentage of GDP


Trade balance


Services & Transfers, net


Factor Payments


Current Account Balance


-14%


-12%


-10%


-8%


-6%


-4%


-2%


0%


2%


4%


6%


8%


10%


12%


14%


1Q
2


00
5


3Q
2


00
5


1Q
2


00
6


3Q
2


00
6


1Q
2


00
7


3Q
2


00
7


1Q
2


00
8


3Q
2


00
8


1Q
2


00
9


3Q
2


00
9


1Q
2


01
0


3Q
2


01
0


1Q
2


01
1


3Q
2


01
1


1Q
2


01
2


Percentage of GDP


Portfolio Investment & Other
Investment
Direct Investment, net


Current Account Balance


Change in Reserves


-14%


-12%


-10%


-8%


-6%


-4%


-2%


0%


2%


4%


6%


8%


10%


12%


14%


1Q
2


00
5


3Q
2


00
5


1Q
2


00
6


3Q
2


00
6


1Q
2


00
7


3Q
2


00
7


1Q
2


00
8


3Q
2


00
8


1Q
2


00
9


3Q
2


00
9


1Q
2


01
0


3Q
2


01
0


1Q
2


01
1


3Q
2


01
1


1Q
2


01
2


Percentage of GDP


Trade balance
Services & Transfers, net
Factor Payments
Current Account Balance


-14%


-12%


-10%


-8%


-6%


-4%


-2%


0%


2%


4%


6%


8%


10%


12%


14%


1Q
2


00
5


3Q
2


00
5


1Q
2


00
6


3Q
2


00
6


1Q
2


00
7


3Q
2


00
7


1Q
2


00
8


3Q
2


00
8


1Q
2


00
9


3Q
2


00
9


1Q
2


01
0


3Q
2


01
0


1Q
2


01
1


3Q
2


01
1


1Q
2


01
2


Percentage of GDP


Portfolio Investment & Other
Investment
Direct Investment, net


Current Account Balance


Change in Reserves


-10%


-8%


-6%


-4%


-2%


0%


2%


4%


6%


8%


10%


1Q
2


00
5


3Q
2


00
5


1Q
2


00
6


3Q
2


00
6


1Q
2


00
7


3Q
2


00
7


1Q
2


00
8


3Q
2


00
8


1Q
2


00
9


3Q
2


00
9


1Q
2


01
0


3Q
2


01
0


1Q
2


01
1


3Q
2


01
1


1Q
2


01
2


Percentage of GDP


Trade balance


Services & Transfers, net


Factor Payments


Current Account Balance


-10%


-8%


-6%


-4%


-2%


0%


2%


4%


6%


8%


10%


1Q
2


00
5


3Q
2


00
5


1Q
2


00
6


3Q
2


00
6


1Q
2


00
7


3Q
2


00
7


1Q
2


00
8


3Q
2


00
8


1Q
2


00
9


3Q
2


00
9


1Q
2


01
0


3Q
2


01
0


1Q
2


01
1


3Q
2


01
1


1Q
2


01
2


Percentage of GDP


Portfolio Investment & Other Investment


Direct Investment, net


Current Account Balance


Change in Reserves





| 33




A quick glance at the balance of payments reveals important differences with both the export-led
countries in SEA, and the more developed commodity exporters in our PCE group. For starters,
both groups exhibit trade and current account surpluses—large but declining in the first case
(currently at 3.7 percent on average); modest but stable in the second (2.2 percent). The difference
between LAC-6 and these two other groups seem to lie in the income account, which in the case of
LAC-6 reflects an important outflow associated to factor payments: interest rates and, most notably,
corporate dividends (Figure 2.4.A).22

The difference in factor payments relates, in turn, to a critical source of foreign funding in LAC:
FDI. As Figure 2.4.B, Panel A illustrates, factor payments are indeed correlated with past FDI: the
more FDI received in the past, the larger the dividend payments today. This is a direct consequence
of the fact that, somewhat at odds with the conventional view, LAC’s growth on average has not
been financed, at least not directly, by the commodity boom nor by large and steady portfolio capital
inflows, but rather by a strong and stable inflow of FDI.23 Moreover, FDI, more than private
consumption, has been a main driver behind the rapid growth in imports that underlies the
narrowing trade surplus: capital goods and intermediate inputs that are in line with cumulative FDI
flows (Figure 2.4.B, Panels B, C, D, and E).

In sum, we have a narrowing (and, presently, mostly negative) current account balance, whereby
imports of capital and intermediate goods are financed by foreign capital (especially, and in contrast
with conventional wisdom, FDI flows) that eventually gets repaid in the form of large factor
payments that subtract from the trade balance, placing the current account in negative territory. In
other words, LAC seems to illustrate the reversal of the Lucas paradox: foreign capital flows into
countries with good growth prospects to fund profitable investments and bring the profits back
home.

How can we reconcile the incidence of global growth drivers documented in the first section with
this domestic demand-led, FDI-financed Latin American path to growth? One could conjecture that
sustained FDI flows were the indirect result of commodity terms of trade that fuelled investment in
oil, mining, land and the associated transportation infrastructure. However, again, reality is more
complex than convention. FDI flows were not exclusively channeled to those sectors: a large share
of foreign capital went to fund investment in services and manufacturing; most notably, in the two
largest economies in the region, Brazil and Mexico (Figure 2.4.B, Panel F). But, while FDI flows
have been sensitive to both the local and the global business cycle (Levy Yeyati et al. (2007)), in the
2000s they have displayed a remarkable resilience—and, in countries such as Bolivia, Colombia or
Peru they have grown in importance.

Why all the FDI? For starters, the trade surplus, which did grow significantly in the 2000s, provided
LAC countries with the foreign exchange needed to meet the consumption and investment boosts,
in economies more prone to real exchange rate appreciation than its Asian peers. In many cases,
such surpluses also added to the public savings needed to deleverage and de-dollarize the economy



22 Remittance inflows, captured in the secondary income account as transfer payments, are also sizable but relatively
smaller than in SEA (or in CA). For many Central American and Caribbean countries, remittances vastly exceed FDI.


23 While portfolio flows have tended to move procyclically, recording net inflows and outflows in good and bad years,
respectively, FDI net inflows for LAC6 have averaged 2 percent to 4 percent of GDP every single year since 1995, with
the exception of 1992, where they posted a much more positive number, possibly reflecting the enthusiasm generated by
the Brady plan.





34 | Latin America and the Caribbean as Tailwinds Recede: In Search of Higher Growth




FIGURE 2.4.B. The External Side of LAC’s Domestic-Driven Growth: FDI and the Current
Account


PANEL A. FDI and Factor Payments PANEL B. LAC-7 Imports



PANEL C. FDI and Intermediate Goods


Imports
PANEL D. FDI and Capital Goods Imports



PANEL E. Consumption Goods Imports


and Private Consumption



PANEL F. Composition of FDI Flows





Notes: In Panel B, LAC-7: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru and Uruguay. In Panels C, D and E percentage changes are measured using average values for
the periods 2003 – 2007 and 2010 – 2011. In Panel F, Other includes Telecommunications, Transportation, and Utilities. Sources: LCRCE from Haver Analytics, IFS,
and National Sources.


Argentina
Brazil


Chile
Colombia


Mexico


Peru


Indonesia


Korea, Rep.


Malaysia


Philippines


Thailand Croatia
Lithuania


Hungary


Poland


Romania


Turkey


Australia


Canada


New Zealand


Norway


Sweden


-30%


-25%


-20%


-15%


-10%


-5%


0%


5%


10%


15%


0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% 120% 140% 160%


C
u


m
u


la
ti


ve
F


ac
to


r
P


ay
m


en
ts


-
3Q


2
01


1
to


2
Q


2
01


2


Cumulative FDI/GDP - 2000 to 2011


Percentage of GDP


0


50


100


150


200


250


300


350


400


2003-2007 2008-2009 2010-2011


Average 1998 - 2002 = 100


Consumer Intermediate Capital


ARG


BRA


CHLCOL


MEX


PER


URY


HKG


IND


MYS


TWN


0%


50%


100%


150%


200%


250%


300%


-50% 0% 50% 100% 150% 200% 250% 300%


In
te


rm
ed


ia
te


G
o


o
d


s
Im


p
o


rt
s


FDI


Percentage Change - 2003 - 2007 to 2010 - 2011


ARG


BRA


CHL
COL


MEX


PER


URY


HKG


IND


MYS
TWN


KOR


0%


50%


100%


150%


200%


250%


300%


-50% 0% 50% 100% 150% 200% 250% 300%


C
ap


it
al


G
o


o
d


s
Im


p
o


rt
s


FDI


Percentage Change - 2003 - 2007 to 2010 - 2011


ARG


BRA


CHL
COL


MEX


PER


URY


HKG


IND


MYS
TWN


KOR


0%


50%


100%


150%


200%


250%


300%


5% 15% 25% 35% 45% 55%


C
o


n
su


m
p


ti
o


n
G


o
o


d
s


Im
p


o
rt


s


Private Consumption


Percentage Change - 2003 - 2007 to 2010 - 2011


0.0% 1.0% 2.0% 3.0% 4.0% 5.0%


Colombia


Argentina


Chile


Mexico


Peru


Brazil


Percentage of GDP in 2011


Construction


Fuel and Mining


Other


Services and Manufacturing





| 35




away from financial fragilities. But it is the low international interest rates, the record highs in the
terms of trade and, possibly, the rising foreign currency position of LAC’s sovereigns that come to
mind to explain the renewed investment appeal of natural resource-rich economies. In other words,
global tailwinds were not innocuous; they were indeed metabolized into domestic demand
expansion, public sector deleveraging and overall healthier economies. And, given low interest rates
and abundant global liquidity, LAC was able to lure foreign savings to fuel growth and compensate
for the region’s historically low savings ratios.


Growth´s Anatomy: The Tertiarization of LAC’s Economy


To complete the characterization of LAC’s domestic demand-led growth, we need to look at the
evolution and composition of supply. Here there are not many surprises: despite the popular
reference to the primarization of exports in most SAM economies, the term that better describes the
dynamics of supply in recent years is “tertiarization”. Propelled by domestic demand and
appreciating real exchange rates, economic activity has gradually shifted from tradables to non-
tradables and, more specifically, from manufactures to services, which went from representing an
average 60 percent of total value added in 2000 to about 64 percent in 2011 (Figure 2.5, Panel A).

There was, indeed, an acceleration of the growth rate of services in the 2000s. Value added in
services (broadly defined) saw the largest jump in annual growth rates from the 1990s to the 2000s
of all the sectors of the economy—a 1.15 percentage point increase. In fact, services went from
trailing behind the primary sector and construction in the 1990s (in terms of annual value added
growth) to growing almost at the same rate as construction, the leading sector in the 2000s (Figure
2.5, Panel B).

The distribution of growth inside the service sector is relevant: skilled services have trailed behind
non skilled services (and construction) but have grown ahead of manufactures. The shape is
remarkably similar to that for PCEs, perhaps the group more economically affine to SAM.24
Interestingly, the same is true for export-led SEA economies, although both manufactures and
skilled services fared relatively much better.

Thus, a perfunctory look into the service sector shows that the contributions to value added growth
in Latin America has not been circumscribed to low-skilled activities or construction; on the
contrary, it is in high-skilled services that growth contributions have been more significant in the
past decade, in line with both SEA and PCEs (Figure 2.6). In other words, the story on the
tertiarization of LAC needs much more nuance than normally told, for it entailed more than just the
proliferation of unsophisticated kiosks attended by an unskilled labor force.


Is Tertiaritazion Going Too Far? Benchmarking the Service Sector in LAC


In light of the growth factoids presented above, should we worry about tertiarization as a deviation
from Latin America’s virtuous industrial destiny, or should we focus our attention on fostering
competitiveness of sophisticated, high-skilled services that can help sustain the gain in real wages of
the 2000s? And, more generally, is tertiarization a Latin American version of the Dutch Disease or
rather a natural development in the growth path of middle-income economies?



24 Similar to SAM countries, PCEs are commodity producing economies.





36 | Latin America and the Caribbean as Tailwinds Recede: In Search of Higher Growth




FIGURE 2.5. A Comparative Look at LAC’s Growth Pattern: The Supply Side


PANEL A. Real Value Added Across Sectors



PANEL B. LAC-7 Real Value Added


Growth
PANEL C. Real Value Added Growth Across


Regions



Notes: Value added is in constant 2005 LCUs. In Panel A, LAC-7 & Uruguay (excl. Brazil and Mexico): Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela.
EE MICs: Croatia, Estonia, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and Turkey. SEA MICs: Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, South Korea, and Thailand.
PCEs: Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Norway, and Sweden. In Panel B and C LAC-7: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela.
In Panel A and C, Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishing corresponds to the sectors A & B in ISIC Rev. 3 Classification; Mining & Utilities includes sectors C and E;
Manufacturing includes sector D; Construction includes sector F; Skilled Services include sectors J-P. In Panel A, Wholesale, Retail and Restaurant includes sector G and H,
and Transport, Storage and Communications includes sector I. In Panel B, Primary Sector includes ISIC sectors A-C, and E, and Services includes sectors G-P. In Panel C,
Other Services includes ISIC sectors G-I. Source: UN Statistics.



The combination of high terms of trade, locally driven growth and declining industrial participation
outlined above has fuelled concerns about the quality of growth, specifically noting that the current
pattern seems to describe a process wherein high productivity manufacturing sectors are losing out
against less productive service activities (including construction) that have low skill content. This is
ostensibly true when we compare growth rates of value added by sector in LAC with that in Asia,
which has been and still is the standard against which Latin American performance is often
measured.


0%


10%


20%


30%


40%


50%


60%


70%


80%


90%


100%


2000 2011 2000 2011 2000 2011 2000 2011 2000 2011 2000 2011


Brazil Mexico LAC7 &
Uruguay (excl.


Brazil &
Mexico)


EE MICs SEA MICs PCEs


Share of Total Value Added


Skilled Services Wholesale, Retail & Restaurant


Transportation & Communication Construction


Manufacturing Mining & Utilities


Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing Total Services


0%


1%


2%


3%


4%


5%


6%


7%


8%


Primary Sector Manufacturing Construction Services


1990-2005 2002-2005 2002-2011


0%


2%


4%


6%


8%


10%


12%


EE MICs LAC-7 & Uruguay PCE SEA MICs


Annual Growth 2000-2011


Skilled Services Other Services


Construction Manufacturing


Mining & Utilities Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing


Total Services GDP Growth





| 37




FIGURE 2.6. Sectoral Contributions to Real Value Added Growth



Notes: Value added is in constant 2005 LCUs. LAC-7 & Uruguay (excl. Brazil and Mexico): Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela. EE MICs:
Croatia, Estonia, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and Turkey. SEA MICs: Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, South Korea, and Thailand. PCEs:
Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Norway, and Sweden .Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishing corresponds to the sectors A & B in ISIC Rev.3 Classification; Mining &
Utilities includes sectors C and E; Manufacturing includes sector D; Construction includes sector F; Skilled Services include sectors J-P; Other Services includes sectors G-I.
Source: UN Statistics.




There are, however, some nuances worth mentioning. First of all, the SEA MICs (“new tigers” such
as Malaysia, Indonesia or the Philippines) display a sectoral pattern of value added growth that does
not differ significantly from the pattern in LAC. Second, valued added figures in the more advanced
primary producers grouped under PCE print a similar shape, albeit at a lower rate (Figure 2.5,
Panel C).

On the other hand, it is apparent that the share of manufacturing in the GDP (i) typically declines
with the degree of development; and (ii) with a few exceptions, has been declining steadily over time,
independently of the degree of development (Figure 2.7, Panels A and B). Thus, from a broader
perspective, tertiarization can appears less as an undesired by-product of the commodity boom and
more as a natural consequence of the region´s development.

A quick glance at the share of services over GDP in the world and over time suggests that LAC
countries have not deviated from a virtuous industrialization dream but rather have converged
towards the average development path, one in which the relative share of manufactures, both in
terms of value added and employment, declines with per capita income (Figure 2.7, Panel A). With
some exceptions like Brazil or Uruguay, most LAC-8 (LAC-7+Uruguay) countries lie close to or
below the share of services in value added predicted by their per capita income levels; some, like
Argentina, Chile or Venezuela have shares of services well below their expected value. Indeed, most
countries in LAC, which started the 2000s with values that were above the empirical relation
between share of services and GDP, witnessed a steady convergence towards levels that, given
LAC’s per capita income, are more in line with the international benchmark (Figure 2.7, Panel C).
In all, the data tends to dispel the often heard fears of excessive tertiarization.


-3%


-2%


-1%


0%


1%


2%


3%


4%


5%


6%


7%


8%


19
98


-2
00


2


20
03


-2
00


7


20
08


-2
00


9


20
10


-2
01


1


19
98


-2
00


2


20
03


-2
00


7


20
08


-2
00


9


20
10


-2
01


1


19
98


-2
00


2


20
03


-2
00


7


20
08


-2
00


9


20
10


-2
01


1


19
98


-2
00


2


20
03


-2
00


7


20
08


-2
00


9


20
10


-2
01


1


19
98


-2
00


2


20
03


-2
00


7


20
08


-2
00


9


20
10


-2
01


1


19
98


-2
00


2


20
03


-2
00


7


20
08


-2
00


9


20
10


-2
01


1


Brazil Mexico LAC7 &
Uruguay (excl.


Brazil &
Mexico)


EE MICs SEA MICs PCEs


Contribution to Growth


Skilled Services Other Services
Construction Manufacturing
Mining & Utilities Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing





38 | Latin America and the Caribbean as Tailwinds Recede: In Search of Higher Growth




FIGURE 2.7. Is LAC Becoming Too Service Intensive or Just Converging?


PANEL A. Services Value Added
2010


PANEL B. Employment in Services Late
2000s



PANEL C. Share of Services and GDP PANEL D. Share of Employment in Services


and GDP



Notes: Value added is in constant 2005 LCUs. In Panels A and C we run a regression of the share of value added from services on a polynomial of log GDP Per Capita on a
sample of countries with available data in 2000 and 2010. Fitted values are the predicted value of the share of value added from services according to this regression. In Panels B
and D we run a regression of the share of employment in services on a polynomial of log GDP Per Capita on a sample of countries with available data in early 2000s (2000 or
2001) and late 2000s (2007 or 2008). Fitted values are the predicted value of the share of employment in services according to this regression. Share of Services is the ratio
between the value added in sectors G through S (ISIC Rev. 3) over total value added. Source: UN Statistics.

What about employment in services? A similar exercise to the one performed with value added
suggests that by-and-large LAC countries employ a bigger share of their labor force in services than
what their per capita income levels (and their service value added) would predict: service sectors in
LAC are either more labor intensive or less labor productive than in countries with comparable per
capita incomes. This observation was raised in the October 2012 report in this series “The Labor
Market Story Behind LAC’s Transformation” and is illustrated in Figure 2.7, Panel B. A dynamic
view of this empirical relation, however, shows that the gap between the observed labor shares in
services and those predicted by income have also declined in the 2000s in LAC (Figure 2.7, Panel
D).

The fact that industrial shares are declining (and tertiarization growing) over time and across the
board suggest that, besides being part of the development cycle, the tertiarization trend may be


0%
20


%
.4


0%
60


%
.8


0%
10


0%


S
h


a
re


o
f


V
a


lu
e


A
d


d
ed


F
ro


m
S


er
vi


ce
s


4 6 8 10 12


Log GDP Per Capita


Rest of the World LAC


Fitted Values


20
%


40
%


60
%


80
%


10
0%


S
h


ar
e


o
f


E
m


p
lo


ym
en


t
in


S
er


vi
ce


s


6 8 10 12
Log GDP Per Capita


Rest of the World LAC


LAC-7 + URY


0%


10%


20%


30%


40%


50%


60%


70%


80%


90%


-30%


-25%


-20%


-15%


-10%


-5%


0%


5%


10%


15%


20%


25%


V
en


ez
ue


la


C
h


ile


A
rg


en
ti


n
a


M
ex


ic
o


C
o


lo
m


b
ia


P
er


u


U
ru


gu
ay


B
ra


zi
l


P
ar


ag
ua


y


N
ic


ar
ag


ua


H
o


n
du


ra
s


E
cu


ad
o


r


C
o


st
a


R
ic


a


B
o


liv
ia


E
l S


al
va


do
r


P
an


am
a


LAC7 & URY Other LAC


Deviation from Fitted Value-2000
Deviation from Fitted Value- 2010
Share of Value Added in Services-2010 (RHA)


0%


10%


20%


30%


40%


50%


60%


70%


80%


-5%


0%


5%


10%


15%


20%


25%


30%


35%


M
ex


ic
o


C
h


ile


B
ra


zi
l


V
en


ez
ue


la
, R


B


U
ru


gu
ay


A
rg


en
ti


n
a


C
o


lo
m


b
ia


P
er


u


H
o


n
d


ur
as


B
o


liv
ia


E
cu


ad
o


r


C
o


st
a


R
ic


a


E
l S


al
va


d
o


r


P
ar


ag
ua


y


P
an


am
a


LAC7 & URY Other LAC


Deviation from Fitted Value- Early 2000s
Deviation from Fitted Values- 2000s
Share of Employment in Services- Late 2000s (RHA)





| 39




capturing a different, more general trend not necessarily related with the anatomy of growth in
specific regions. In fact, the notion of a steady relation between services an income and of “stages of
economic development” may be turning obsolete in a globalized world where the production
process has become more modular.25 There are reasons to believe that, because of outsourcing,
measures of industrial share may not be comparable over time. Vertical disintegration through
outsourcing and offshoring imply that many activities that in the past were performed inside the
industrial firm (transportation, telecommunications, security, catering, health services, mailing, etc.)
now are provided by outside service firms, and are accordingly grouped under services at the
expense of the industrial product.26 Ultimately, the declining secular trend in the industrial product
could be conflating both long-term development dynamics and more pedestrian statistical factors.

In sum, the discussion thus far does not imply that we should stop worrying about the faltering
industry; it simply puts the phenomenon under a different light. While tertiarization may reflect to
some extent the consequence of the commodity boom and the associated appreciation of SAM’s
currencies, it may also, and perhaps more fundamentally, be the reflection of the combination of
economic development, globalization and corporate outsourcing. We should worry not so much at
the smaller industrial share but rather about the productivity and tradability of the service sector.


What’s Wrong with Tertiarization? Productivity and Skills


So far our discussion of the growing tertiary sector has centered on employment and value added.
But in order to assess the growth prospects of an economy with a relatively large service sector, it is
inevitable to address its implication for two of the engines of growth: productivity and human
capital.

There is a widespread belief that productivity growth is slower in services than in manufactures. This
view, which dates back at least to Baumol’s 1967 work, regards services as a stagnant sector of the
economy.27 Because of this, defendants of industrialization seem to start from the prior that the
primary sector and, most notably, service sectors (the beneficiaries of the composition shift in most
countries in the region in the past decade) are characterized by a lower productivity and a weaker
demand for skilled labor. This may give grounds to the hypothesis that real currency appreciation
supported by higher terms of trade, by hampering the price competitiveness of the local industry, is
hampering productivity as well as depressing the skill wage premium and returns to education,
leading Latin America to a developmental cul de sac. However, this view of the effects of
“tertiarization” in the labor market may be misinterpreting and understating the role of the service
sector in the big development picture.



25 The notion of “stages of economic development” was enunciated by U.S. economist Walt Rostow and involves a
series of transitions from primarization, to manufacturing, and finally to services (tertiarization) as countries become
richer.


26 The related literature is scarce. Of particular interest is Carranza and Moreno (2013) where the authors estimate value
added correcting for outsourcing and find, contrary to conventional measures, no loss in industrial participation in
aggregate value added, and, at a more general level, Antràs, Garicano y Rossi-Hansberg (2006), which argue that recent
technological shocks have favored vertical disintegration.
27 Although this view was backed by the US data in the 1970’s, recent work suggests that Baumol’s hypothesis has been
reversed. See Triplett and Bosworth (2003).





40 | Latin America and the Caribbean as Tailwinds Recede: In Search of Higher Growth




Are services necessarily less productive that industry? In order to test this hypothesis empirically one
would need to have empirical estimates of productivity at the sectoral level. This is a rather difficult
and, if anything, controversial endeavor. At the aggregate level, the most common measure of
productivity is total factor productivity (TFP): with all the caveats this measure poses, it gives us the
best measure of the part of growth that is not accounted by factor accumulation. There are,
however, major challenges to calculate this measure of productivity for the service sector. In
particular, it is very difficult to estimate TFP at the sectoral level because of the lack of disaggregated
information on capital stocks (or, for that matter, investment). To come around these issues, the
profession has settled in using sectoral labor productivity (that is, value added over employment) as
a proxy for total factor productivity, despite the obvious drawbacks of the former.28

With these caveats in mind, we use labor productivity growth to assess whether the conventional
view (Baumol’s) holds in LAC. The evidence in Pagés-Serra (2010) seems to support this hypothesis.
But while the long-run perspective places services far behind manufactures (which, in turn, lags the
primary sector, the beneficiary of the important technological advances in production methods,
machinery and inputs in the late 1990s), the past decade shows a new and brighter face of
productivity in the services sector (Figure 2.8). Thus, Baumol’s view gets mixed scores: despite
underperforming in terms of labor productivity in the long-run, services have been far from stagnant
in recent years.


FIGURE 2.8. Annual Labor Productivity Growth in LAC by Sector



Notes: LAC includes Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela. Primary Sector includes ISIC sectors A-
C, and E in ISIC Rev. 3; Manufacturing includes sector D; Construction includes sector F, and Services includes sectors G-P. Labor productivity is
measured as the ratio between value added and total employment in a given sector. Source: Timmer and de Vries (2007).




28 Labor productivity captures “true” productivity only if the production process uses labor as its only input. If it does
not, labor productivity is a function of true productivity as well as other factors, mainly capital.


0.0%


0.5%


1.0%


1.5%


2.0%


2.5%


3.0%


3.5%


4.0%


Primary Sector Manufacturing Construction Services


1990-2005 2002-2005





| 41




What about human capital and skills? Is the service sector in LAC plagued with low-skill intensive
activities as some people argue, or is it closer to the sophisticated services offered in high-income
economies? Here, again, the conventional view is not easily validated in the data. A quick glance at
the skill composition by sector indicates that services is the sector in LAC that uses, by far, the
higher share of educated labor—more than 50 percent of the labor force employed in services has at
least a secondary degree (20 percent have a tertiary degree). This numbers are 10 percentage points
larger than in manufacturing, the second most skilled intensive (if we use education as a measure of
skills) sector (Figure 2.9, Panels A and B). Moreover, looking at the evolution of skill intensity
over time we see that, if anything, the service sector (especially if one excludes construction services)
has become more skill intensive than the manufacturing sector, while the primary and construction
sectors have widened their skill intensity deficit with respect to manufacturing (Figure 2.9 Panels C
and D). Given that technological progress tends to complement skills (Acemoglu (2002)), the skill
intensity edge that the services sector (excluding construction) has over other sectors in the
economy puts it in a better position to rip the benefits of technological progress.

FIGURE 2.9. Share of Educated Workers Across Sectors Over Time in LAC-7


PANEL A. Education Intensity Across
Sectors Over Time (Tertiary)


PANEL B. Education Intensity Across
Sectors Over Time (Secondary +)



PANEL C. Education Intensity Relative to


Manufacturing (Tertiary)
PANEL D. Education Intensity Relative to


Manufacturing (Secondary +)



Notes: All variables are calculated using simple averages for Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, and Uruguay. We used two definitions of
education intensity. The first, (called Tertiary) measures education intensity as the share of workers with a college degree. The second definition (secondary +)
measures education intensity as the ratio of workers with a High School degree or more. LCRCE from SEDLAC.


0%


5%


10%


15%


20%


25%


Primary Manufacturing Construction Services


Early 2000s Late 2000s


0%


10%


20%


30%


40%


50%


60%


Primary Manufacturing Construction Services


Early 2000s Late 2000s


-6%


-4%


-2%


0%


2%


4%


6%


8%


10%


12%


Primary Construction Services


Early 2000s Late 2000s


-30%


-25%


-20%


-15%


-10%


-5%


0%


5%


10%


15%


Primary Construction Services


Early 2000s Late 2000s





42 | Latin America and the Caribbean as Tailwinds Recede: In Search of Higher Growth




The connection between sectoral skill (education) intensity and productivity can be further explored
by looking at the relation between skill intensity and relative wages. If wages reflect the marginal
productivity of a worker, which is a function of TFP, a positive correlation between sectoral wages
and sectoral skill intensity might be a sign of a connection between TFP and skill intensity.

The evidence in LAC-7 economies suggest this is the case: non-construction services, the more skill
intensive sector in these economies, pays wages that are on average higher than those in
construction, the least skill intensive sector (Figure 2.10, Panel A). 29 One can think of situations
where the positive correlation between wages and skill intensity captures other types of labor
dynamics. For example, it could be that a booming sector which is low-skill intensive attracts skilled
workers to do low-skill tasks (a college graduate working in construction). If this were the case, one
would expect sectors with large wage increases to experience the largest changes in the share of
skilled workers. However, although there is a positive correlation between changes in wages and
changes in skill intensity, it is statistically insignificant and close to zero (Figure 2.10, Panel B).

The evidence thus far puts the non-construction service sector in a rather bright spot, far from the
unsophisticated, low-skill stereotype. But looking at the sector as a whole might lead to some
misinterpretations. In fact, by looking at the skill intensity across service subsectors, one can see that
there is a great deal of variation—on average, in LAC-7, only 8 percent of labor force in the
commerce and accommodations sector has a tertiary degree while as much as 34 percent of the
workers in “finance, insurance, and other professional services” has one.

FIGURE 2.10. Wages and Education: Levels and Changes by Sector


PANEL A. Relative Wages and Education
Intensity


PANEL B. Changes in Relative Wages and
Changes in Education Intensity



Notes: Each dot in the scatter plots represents a pair of relative wage change and initial education intensity or the change in education intensity for each of the
63 country-sector combinations (7 countries; 9 sectors). Countries include Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, and Uruguay. Sectors are
defined as Timmer and de Vries (2007). Relative wages are measured as the ratio of the average wage in a given sector and the average wage in the economy.
Education intensity is measured as the share of workers in a given sector with a high school degree or a college degree. Changes are measured between in the
time span between 2002 and 2010. Source: LCRCE from SEDLAC.



29 For the analysis on sectoral wages and skill intensity we use a more disaggregated, 10 sector classification similar to
Timmers and de Vrie (2007).


.5
1


1.
5


2
2.


5


R
el


at
iv


e
W


ag
es


0 .2 .4 .6 .8 1


Education Intensity (Secondary +)


Primary Manufacturing Construction


Services Fitted values


-1
-.


5
0


.5


C
h


an
ge


in
R


el
at


iv
e


W
ag


es


-.1 -.05 0 .05 .1 .15


Change in Education Intensity (Secondary +)


Primary Manufacturing Construction


Services Fitted values





| 43




Could it be that the decline in the share of labor in manufacturing observed in LAC-7 in the 2000s
translated into a rise in employment of low skill-intensity non-tradable sectors?30 And could this be
perhaps connected to the puzzling decline in the returns to education (a phenomenon discussed in
the October 2012 report, “The Labor Market Story Behind LAC’s Transformation?”)? If anything,
the answer to these questions seems is not conclusive. On the one hand, the evidence indicates that
it was the high skill-intensity sectors that increased their labor share in the period, at the expense of
low skill-intensity activities (Figure 2.11, Panels A and B). In addition, the skill premium in
services as a whole remained stable throughout the mid-1990s and the 2000s, suggesting that a pro-
service sectoral shift in employment could not be an important determinant of the decline in the skill
premium.31 (A detailed analysis of this last point can be found in Appendix A.) On the other hand,
one would need to relate the declining trend in returns to education to the relative demand for
education coming from the non-tradable sector taken as a whole, which includes but is not
circumscribed to services.

In sum, non-construction services in LAC seem to be a skill-intensive sector with huge potential to
gain from skill-biased technical change. Moreover, despite a bleak performance during the 1990s, the
2000s saw a rebirth of services in LAC as a dynamic, productive sector. Despite this, critics of
tertiarization might still claim that exports continue to be necessary for growth and that
deindustrialization may choke this engine. But, what if the ever-changing global economic setup has
blurred the line between what is tradable and non-tradable?


Can LAC Become an Exporter of Services? A New View of Trade


At the macro level, the development debate in Latin American (and, to varying degrees, elsewhere as
well) is often associated with the concept of industrialization. The conventional view is (i) to
highlight the presumed virtues of manufacturing sector growth (e.g., moving up the value added
chain via economic activities of higher knowledge and technological content); (ii) regard
primarization with alarm or skepticism; and (iii) simply looked down on tertiarization. The concerns
with de-industrialization seem at times as the single macroeconomic concern in which academics,
policymakers and corporate and labor leaders coincide: the need to protect industrial output and
industrial jobs.

However, with the obvious caveat that not all tertiarization is similarly “good” form a development


perspective (some may be indeed entail a shift to less productive, “growth-reducing” activities), it is
still worth noting that the divide between tradables and non-tradables does not always match the
distinction between manufactures and services: services represent a sizable and growing share of
exports in most small open economies.

Tell me what goods you export and I will tell you what you will become, seems to be the conclusion
of a recent body of literature positively linking export sophistication, on the one hand, and



30 This question is loosely related to McMillan and Rodrick (2012) who claim that labor in LAC moved from high labor
productivity sectors to low labor productivity sectors.


31 This point does not discard that other growing non-tradable sector could help elucidate the puzzle. This would be
consistent with the empirical analysis in Gasparini et al. (2011) and in the already mentioned October 2012 report
arguing that, as a consequence of a commodity bonanza, low-skilled non tradable sectors (for example, construction)
could expand and contribute to depress the aggregate wage premium.





44 | Latin America and the Caribbean as Tailwinds Recede: In Search of Higher Growth




FIGURE 2.11. Change in Labor Share and Education: Levels and Changes by Sector


PANEL A. Change in Share of Employment
and Initial Education Intensity


PANEL B. Change in Share of Employment
and Change in Education Intensity



Notes: Each dot in the scatter plots represents a pair of change in relative share of employment and initial education intensity or the change in education
intensity for each of the 63 country-sector combinations (7 countries; 9 sectors). Countries include Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, and
Uruguay. Sectors are defined as Timmer and de Vries (2007). Labor shares are measured as the fraction of the labor force working in a given sector.
Education intensity is measured as the share of workers in a given sector with a high school degree or a college degree. Changes are measured between in the
time span between 2002 and 2010. Source: LCRCE from SEDLAC.

economic performance and labor market dynamism, on the other.32 Can we extend the argument of
exported value added to the exports of services?

Perhaps it is too early to do so, not least because the classification and measurement of services is
always a tricky task. But a cursory look at LAC’s exports of services relative to those of comparable


economies reveals positive and negative symptoms, as illustrated by Figure 2.12. An important
caveat regarding that figure is that—due to data limitations—it does not include one of the most
important service export in the region, namely, tourism services. This said, it is clear from the figure
that the skill content (again measured by the education levels of the labor force) of exported services
in many LAC-7 has been rising in the past decade, most notably in the Southern Cone. Moreover,
exports of services with a high degree of sophistication and high skill content, such as computer and
information services and other professional and business services, have been increasing in LAC-7
economies relative to GDP over the last decade. On the negative side, exports of services in LAC-7
are still far from what their income levels predict, and are rising from relatively very low levels-
compare, for example, the average 7 percent service share of exports for PCE (concentrated in high-
skilled business services) or the 12 percent share for SEA with the 3 percent average share recorded
by LAC-7 economies. Thus, if a correspondence could be traced between the quality of traded
services and growth prospects, the exercise would yield a sobering conclusion: services in LAC7 are
still very far from substituting manufactures as a tradable product.

Going back to our original question, we could conclude that tertiarization is not, per se, detrimental
to economic performance: if anything, LAC-7 economies have moved closer to the virtual locus that
links the size of the service sector and the degree of development. Thus, tertiarization could be seen,
above all, as a natural reflection of the solid growth path enjoyed by the region in the past decade—



32 See Lederman and Maloney (2012) for a comprehensive—and critical—empirical exploration of this premise.


-6
-4


-2
0


2
4


C
h


an
ge


i
n


S
h


ar
e


o
f


L
ab


o
r


in
a


S
ec


to
r


0 .2 .4 .6 .8 1


Initial Education Intensity (Secondary +)


Primary Manufacturing Construction


Services Fitted values


-6
-4


-2
0


2
4


C
h


an
ge


i
n


S
h


ar
e


o
f


L
ab


o
r


in
a


S
ec


to
r


-.1 -.05 0 .05 .1 .15


Change in Education Intensity (Secondary +)


Primary Manufacturing Construction


Services Fitted values





| 45




inasmuch as the service sector can become competitive enough to follow in the steps of other fast-
growing or developed economies. At any rate, rather than completely discarding it as an undesired
Dutch Disease by-product, proactive development policies should embrace sophisticated services as
crucial to the Latin American path to sustainable growth.


FIGURE 2.12. Export of Services, Excluding Tourism


PANEL A. Exports Across Different Types of Services



PANEL B. Exports of Skilled Services PANEL C. Exports of Services, Excluding


Tourism



Notes: In Panels A and C LAC-7: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, and Uruguay. EE: Croatia, Estonia, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, Romania,
Slovakia, and Turkey. SEA: Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, South Korea, and Thailand. PCE: Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Norway, and Sweden. Averages for
each group are calculated using countries with available data. Source: LCRCE from Haver Analytics.




0%


1%


2%


3%


4%


5%


6%


SEA EE LAC7 PCE SEA EE LAC7 PCE SEA EE LAC7 PCE SEA EE LAC7 PCE SEA EE LAC7 PCE SEA EE LAC7 PCE SEA EE LAC7 PCE SEA EE LAC7 PCE


Transportation Travel Communications
services


Construction services Insurance services Financial services Computer and
information services


Other business services


2000 2010


0.0%


0.5%


1.0%


1.5%


2.0%


2.5%


3.0%


3.5%


4.0%


Early
2000s


Late
2000s


Early
2000s


Late
2000s


Early
2000s


Late
2000s


Early
2000s


Late
2000s


Early
2000s


Late
2000s


Early
2000s


Late
2000s


Early
2000s


Late
2000s


Argentina Brazil Chile Colombia Mexico Peru Uruguay


Observed Fitted Values


0%


2%


4%


6%


8%


10%


12%


14%


SEA EE LAC7 PCE


Percentage of GDP in 2010





46 | Latin America and the Caribbean as Tailwinds Recede: In Search of Higher Growth




Conclusion: Time to Row

The Latin American path to growth since the early 2000s presents a pattern that does not fully fit
the traditional terms of trade bonanza-Dutch disease concerns that usually appear in the popular
debate. Not that commodity terms of trade have played no role; on the contrary, as we document in
the first section of this report, global drivers (including external demand and generous global
liquidity) help explain a big share of the performance of commodity producers prior, during and
after the global crisis. But, despite the appeal that the export-led model in South East Asia often
exerts in policy circles, the underlying mechanism in fast-growing LAC economies is almost the
opposite of the current account surpluses and high domestic savings, and export-led growth that
characterize the East Asian countries.

LAC mix, instead, has featured a narrowing and, presently, mostly negative current account balance,
and imports of capital and intermediate goods financed mainly by foreign capital (again, in contrast
with conventional wisdom, mostly FDI) that eventually takes its toll in the form of large factor
payments abroad. In a sense, one could think of this identikit as the reversal of the Lucas paradox,
with foreign savings flowing to countries with higher growth prospects. Contrary to an export-led
growth, net exports in LAC have had a negative contribution to growth. LAC´s growth pattern may
thus be best described as a domestic demand-led model, in which private consumption (aided by
the improvement in real income) and, particularly, investment (fuelled as much if not more by FDI
than by the trade balance) played a crucial role.

Is this a mix that can yield a sustainable path to growth for Latin America in the future? Hard to tell:
as we noted, it is neither a homogenous nor a deliberate pattern. But there are reasons to believe that
the identikit outlined in this report is more than circumstantial and may be a key structural trait that
will accompany LAC for many years to come.

For starters, the export-led industrial pattern associated with the Asian tigers is an unlikely option
for the region. First there is the lack of scale: for many reasons, Latin America has so far failed to
integrate into one large market to enhance what currently amounts to a number of small scale
national markets. An expanded domestic market strategy, namely, the deepening of regional
integration as a first step to develop international competitiveness, while still a possibility, appears at
the current juncture hampered, among other obstacles, by political mistrust, the lack of regional
leadership, and a fragmented “spaghetti bowl” of partial and bilateral trade arrangements (Levy
Yeyati et al., 2012). A second obstacle lies in the labor cost. The largest Latin American countries
may still have pending assignments on the poverty and social equity fronts, but they have gone a
long way in improving living standards, which includes a substantial improvement in real wages.
Moreover, to varying degrees, whatever price advantage they may have had by the end of the
financially turbulent 90s, it was largely eroded by the appreciation of the 2000s. As a result, LAC’s
labor is today more expensive than the tigers were in the early 80s, or than the new tigers like
Indonesia or the Philippines are today (Figure 2.13). In this light, competing with low prices
through conventional industrial policies (temporary protection, subsidized credit, and import
substitution) does not look like a promising proposition.

This does not mean that we need to neglect the industrial sector by opening up to foreign
competition and investment; on the contrary, high-skilled services depend on the important





| 47




FIGURE 2.13. Hourly Costs in Manufacturing in Selected Countries



Notes: EE MICs: Estonia, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia. PCEs: Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Norway, and Sweden. AT MICs: South Korea,
Singapore, and Thailand. Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics.

synergies they have with industrial activities. Besides, as we emphasized above, there is a very thin
line between industry and services in a geographically integrated and vertically fragmented business
world. At any rate, advanced commodity-rich economies such as the ones grouped under PCE
appear a more likely target. It is optimal—and easier, both economically and politically—to invest in
education and infrastructure to increase productivity and compete in sophisticated markets with
Australia, Canada or Sweden, than to lower labor costs by keeping an undervalued currency. Indeed,
this seems to be the direction in which many of the most dynamic regional economies seem to be
pointing, judging from the renewed interest in educational reform and investment in infrastructure.
After a first stage in which LAC was able to improve educational inclusion and attainment (Figure
A.3, Panel A), now the challenge lies in education quality (where the region is still visible lacking)
and in a better match with the demands from the productive sector. A cursory look at the
composition of tertiary degrees suggests that we may be not producing the right mix of skills
(Figure 2.14).

As global winds lose strength, some observers are starting to highlight the possibility that the region
may have spent too much of the commodity windfall—the flipside of the increase in domestic
demand and the dependence on FDI flows that we defined as central elements of the growth pattern
in SAM. Interestingly, these concerns relate to a more fundamental dilemma between the welcome
social welfare gains of pro-poor policies, on the one hand, and the fears that the region may not be
saving enough in good times, on the other. To what extent did the rise of the middle class and its
broader access to the banking sector, by promoting consumption, worsen the historically poor
savings record in the region? More generally, is LAC spending too much? The answers to these
questions are still open; the bidirectional links between domestic savings, income distribution and
development are complex and remain relatively unexplored, at least in the region. However, it is
unlikely that the savings rate should increase significantly in the near term. In this light, the Latin
American path to growth should continue to make a smart use of foreign capital to substitute for
insufficient savings and improve the quality of investment. This may imply, however, a real exchange


0%


20%


40%


60%


80%


100%


120%


140%


0


5


10


15


20


25


30


35


40


45


50


Philippines Mexico EE MICs Brazil Argentina AT MICs PCEs


P
er


ce
n


ta
g


e
o


f
U


S
M


an
u


fa
ct


u
ri


n
g


W
a


g
e


U
S


d
o


ll
ar


p
er


H
o


u
r


1996 2003


2011 Percentage of US wage (1996, RHA)


Percentage of US wage (2011, RHA)





48 | Latin America and the Caribbean as Tailwinds Recede: In Search of Higher Growth




FIGURE 2.14. Share of Technical Degrees vs. Per Capita GDP



Notes: Each dot represents the pair (log per capita GDP in 2010, share of the graduating college students obtaining degrees in Engineering and Sciences in
2010) for each country with available information. The curve is the non-linear prediction value of the share of engineers given a level of log per capita GDP.
Source: UNESCO.

rate that is biased towards appreciation, further highlighting the need for LAC to crack the
productivity nut. Finding the right balance between foreign capital, productivity-enhancing policies,
and the need to keep onshore a fair share of the rents of FDI-funded investment (through, for
example, a set of rules flexible enough to accommodate a changing environment without threatening
property rights) remains at the top of the institutional agenda.

LAC has attained quite a lot in the 2000s, including macroeconomic stability, solid growth, poverty
reduction, and a fairer income distribution. The challenge for economic policy is to preserve and
improve on past gains, consolidating the dividends of pro-poor growth but, more likely than not,
without the assistance of tailwinds that the world blew in LAC’s direction. The tailwind is gone and
we can no longer sail effortlessly. It is time to row.





ALB


DZA


AGO


AUT


AZE


BLR


BEL


BEN


BRN


BGR


BFA


BDI


CMR


CYP


CZE


DNK


DJI


ERI


FI N


FRA


DEU


GHA


GRC


ISL


IRL


JPN


JOR


KGZ


LAO


LVA


LBN


MAC


MKD


MDG


MLT


MUS


MNG


MAR


MOZ


NPL


NLD


OMN


PRT


QAT


RUS


SAU


SRB
SYC


SVN


ESP


LKA


CHE


UKR


ARE


GBR


USA


UZB


ZWE


ARG


BRA


CHL


COL


CRI


SLV


HND


MEX


PAN


URY


AUS


NZL


NOR


SWE


IDN


KOR


MYS


THA


HRV


EST


HUN


LTU


POL


ROU


SVK


TUR


.1
.2


.3
.4


.5


S
h


ar
e


4 6 8 10 12
Log of Per Capita GDP


Others Fitted values


LAC PCE


SEA MICs EE MICs


Share of Total Graduates - 2010





| 49




Appendix A


Does Tertiarization Substitute Bad Jobs for Good Jobs?


Squaring the Skill Premium Puzzle


Chapter 2 documents the rise of the tertiary sectors in LAC in the 2000s. There is a labor side of the
bad tertiarization story: one that sees tertiarization as a process that trades low-skill for high-skill
jobs, lowering overall productivity and placing a cap to the rise of real wages. Can this be a driving
force behind the decline in the skill premium observed in the region?

There are in principle two ways in which we can measure how much more one gets paid on average
(that is, controlling for other relevant variables such as gender or experience) as we accumulate
human capital. The first one estimates the wage increase per year of study (more specifically, for
each curricular year successfully completed). The second one controls for the highest degree
attained. Because it captures in a concise way the typical nonlinearity of a degree (the fact that one
gets paid proportionally more for a complete degree than for five fourths of it), for the discussion
below we choose the second approach.33

A first pass at the data gives us the big picture: the premium associated with a secondary school
degree declined visibly and steadily since the mid-90s, although at a faster pace in the 2000s (Figure
A.1, Panel A). By contrasts, the tertiary degree premium (the wage premium paid to workers with
complete tertiary education relative to those with a secondary degree) has gone up and down but
remained relatively stable over the period. How does this tertiary premium compare with other
countries? Just as an illustration, the premium did not differ markedly from that in the US in the 90s,
but showed a negative correlation in the 2000s: whereas wage inequality increased in the US, it went
down in LAC7 (Figure A.1, Panel B).

The downside of the decline in wage inequality in LAC (in principle a good thing) has been
highlighted by De la Torre et al. (2012): it may be attributed not to a equalizing upward move of
wages at the lower end but rather to a downward move for skilled workers due to a weaker demand
for skills. Could it be that tertiarization is behind the evolution of the skill premia, or are other non-
tradable sectors like construction more plausible suspects? Based on a preliminary scrutiny, a
number of stylized facts suggest the latter.

First, as was documented in Chapter 2, services broadly defined are on average skill-intensive sectors
in LAC. So one question emerges: is there a negative association between sectoral intensity and
changes in the skill premium? Moreover, although technological change is generally seen in
developed economies as skill-biased and leading to a widening in the skill-premium (Acemoglu
(1998) among others), the opposite may be true in services in the developing world, in which case
the demand for skills may also decline, compressing the premium. Has the skill premium decline
more in sectors where the demand for skills (its skill intensity) showed smaller changes?



33 There are, of course, combinations that control for both years and degree, as well as potential nonlinearities. Box A.
describes the basic computations, stylized facts and main references on the subject, as well as the computation of
secondary and tertiary skill premia by country and by country-sector used in this section.





50 | Latin America and the Caribbean as Tailwinds Recede: In Search of Higher Growth




FIGURE A.1. Evolution of Skill Premia in LAC


PANEL A. Skill Premia in LAC-7 PANEL B. Skill Premium in LAC-7 and the
U.S.



Notes: LAC-7: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, and Uruguay. Skill premia for LAC are estimated according to equation A.2.1. The
Tertiaary/Secondary skill premium for the US is taken from Acemoglu and Autor (2008). Source: LCRCE from SEDLAC and Acemoglu and Autor (2008).

The first question is explored by looking at the relation between changes skill premium and skill
intensity, for which we find a positive correlation. This finding suggests that it is the low skill-
intensive sectors that are the main force behind the fall in the skill premium (Figure A.2, Panel A).
To answer the second question we do a similar exercise but looking instead at changes in skill
intensity and its relation with change in the skill premium, but we find no significant link between
the two (Figure A.2, Panel B).

We can perform a more direct analysis of the contribution of different sectors to the evolution of
skill premia by estimating skill premia by sector over time, for each of the LAC-7 countries. The
results for the tertiary and secondary premia are plotted in Figure A.2. The figure confirms the
trends shown in Figure A.1: downward sloping for secondary education and more stable and
disperse for tertiary education, with the premium widening in some sectors (finance) and narrowing
in others (construction).

Construction deserves a special note, as it is a low-skill service activity that increased its relative wage
the most in countries like Mexico or Brazil. Was the construction boom behind the evolution of the
skill premium, as has been the case, for example, in countries that underwent systemic real estate
booms?34 It may have played a role in the 2000s, when construction picked up in most LAC-7,
particularly for the tertiary premium, but it is less clear that it accounts for the decline in the
secondary premium given that all sectors (with the exception of the labor scarce agriculture)
exhibited the same downward trend throughout the period.

All this preliminary evidence taken together cast some doubt on the premise that domestic demand-
led growth—more specifically, the strengthening of the demand for non-tradable services at the



34 As Bonhomme and Hospido (2012) document, in Spain the skill premium in construction declined markedly with the
real estate bubble and rebounded accordingly when it burst, with a significant influence on the evolution of the premium
for the economy as a whole.


1.
4


1.
6


1.
8


2
R


e
la


ti
ve


W
a


g
e


s


1995 2000 2005 2010


Year


Secondary/Primary Terciary/Secondary


Terciary/Secondary CI Terciary/Secondary CI


Secondary/Primary CI Secondary/Primary CI


1
.8


1
.8


5
1


.9
1


.9
5


2


W
a


g
e


G
a


p


1995 2000 2005 2010


Year


LAC-7 US


College/High School Skill Premium





| 51




FIGURE A.2. The Skill Premium Across Sectors


PANEL A. Education Intensity and
Changes in the Education Premium


PANEL B. Changes in Education Intensity
and Changes in the Education Premium



PANEL C. The Skill Premium Across


Sectors-Secondary/Primary
PANEL D. The Skill Premium Across


Sectors- Tertiary/Secondary




Notes: Sectoral skill premia in Panels A and B are estimated country by country according to equation A.2.4 in Box A. Countries include Argentina,
Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, and Uruguay. Education intensity is measured as the share of workers in a given sector with a high school degree or a
college degree. Each dot in the scatter plots represents a skill intensity, wage premium pair for each of the 63 country-sector combinations (7 countries; 9
sectors). Sectors are defined as Timmer and de Vries (2007). Changes are measured between in the time span between 2002 and 2010. Skill premia in
Panels C and D are estimated according to equation A.2.3 in Box A. Source: LCRCE from SEDLAC.

expense of manufacturing—has been the main factor behind the recent decline in the returns to
education.

So far, we tried to link the evolution of the premia to changes in labor demand. What about supply
factors? The importance of supply shocks to explain the decline in the skill premium has been
flagged before (see Lederman and Maloney (2012) and Lopez-Calva and Lustig (2013) among
others), typically at an aggregate level without distinguishing by sector and age group.35 There are
many possible reasons why the evolution of returns to secondary and tertiary education may be
related to supply factors. First, we know that education attainment has been on the rise in Latin



35 Azevedo et al. (2013) and Lustig and Lopez-Calva (2010, 2012) have studied the incidence of supply factors in
explaining both movements in the skill-premium as well as inequality.


-.
8


-.
6


-.
4


-.
2


0
.2


C
h


a
n


g
e


i
n


E
d


u
c


a
ti


o
n


P
re


m
iu


m
T


e
rc


ia
ry


/
S


e
c


o
n


d
a


ry


0 .2 .4 .6 .8 1
Initial Education Intensity (Secondary +)


Primary Manufacturing Construction
Services Fitted values


-.
8


-.
6


-.
4


-.
2


0
.2


C
h


a
n


g
e


i
n


E
d


u
c


a
ti


o
n


P
re


m
iu


m
T


e
rc


ia
ry


/
S


e
c


o
n


d
a


ry


-.1 -.05 0 .05 .1 .15
Change in Education Intensity (Secondary +)


Primary Manufacturing Construction
Services Fitted values


1.
2


1.
4


1
.6


1.
8


2
W


a
g


e
R


a
ti


o


1995 2000 2005 2010


Year


Primary Manufacturing Low Manufacturing High


Construction Commerce Utilities


Finance Pub. Sector Education and Health


Secondary/Primary Skill Premium by Sector
1.


5
2


2.
5


3
W


a
g


e
R


a
ti


o


1995 2000 2005 2010


Year


Primary Manufacturing Low Manufacturing High


Construction Commerce Utilities


Finance Pub. Sector Education and Health


Tertiary/Secondary Skill Premium - by Sector





52 | Latin America and the Caribbean as Tailwinds Recede: In Search of Higher Growth




America in the past two decades (Figure A.3, Panel A). This entailed a growing share of the labor
force with secondary and tertiary degrees and, accordingly, a boost to the relative supply of skills. In
this context, if the demand for skills does not grow to match this larger supply, we should expect a
decline in the skill premium as unskilled labor becomes relative scarce—particularly at the secondary
skill premium, where attainment grew more markedly. Indeed, a comparison between the supply
shock and the demand response (that is, the increase in the relative supply of secondary and tertiary
skills and the change in the corresponding skill premium) points in this direction: skill supply is
negatively correlated with changes in the skill premium in almost all countries in LAC-7(Figure A.3,
Panel B and C).36

Furthermore, to the extent that the supply shock is initially concentrated in the young labor force,
we would expect that, in the beginning of the process, the decline in the skill premium should be
larger for new entrants (young workers) and their more direct competitors (middle aged workers),
spilling only gradually over other age groups (as these young workers become older). This appears to
be the case for the secondary premium, where the additional supply was more marked: the premium
started to decline in the 90s with the younger groups and hit the older ones in the 2000s (Figure
A.4, Panels A and B). Figure A.4, Panel C and D present a different take to the age factor. The
secondary premium displays an age pattern that is consistent with the excess supply hypothesis: the
decline in skill premium was originally stronger for the younger population and transmitted over
time to the other age groups. This pattern is not present for the tertiary premium, which on average
declined almost evenly across age groups.

An additional aspect that may explain the compressing skill premia is a change in the quality of the
labor force, for a given level of education. We know that the process of educational inclusion involved
mainly students coming from low-income households that typically display a weaker school
performance. This would imply a lower average aptitude for secondary (and possibly tertiary)
education groups, and would correspond broadly to a mean-reducing spread in the distribution of
skills for higher education groups—or, more precisely, more disperse and, on average, lower quality
of workers with secondary and tertiary degrees—a pattern that should be more visible for secondary
education, for which household income may exert a stronger influence on performance.37

The sector mismatch hypothesis (namely, the poor correspondence between skill supply and
demand) also has a supply-side version. In this case, the mismatch would relate to the concerns,
often voiced in an informal way, that Latin America is not producing the right mix of skills, either
because of a poor curricular fit (particularly, at the tertiary level) or because of a deliberate career
choice of students. As was shown in Chapter 2, the share of “technical” tertiary degrees is weakly
but positively correlated with economic development, as measured by per capita income. Against
this background, countries like Argentina or Brazil seem to be producing “too few engineers”—that



36 This data is in line (and complements) Figure 4.1 in Lederman and Maloney (2012). As we highlight at the end of this
appendix, this falls short of solving the skill premium puzzle. In particular, it is still intriguing why this negative
correlation did not dominate in the 1990s’ when the supply of skills was also increasing but the skill premium did not
decline.
37 This type of arguments may also be used to explain the decline in the tertiary skill premium. We know that in the 90s,
in many LAC7, in the context of what amounted to a liberalization of the university business, there was a surge in
private and public universities generally considered of lower standard and therefore associated with inferior student
placement and wages.





| 53




FIGURE A.3. Supply Factors


PANEL A. Supply of Education Across Regions



PANEL B. Education Supply and the


Education Premium- Secondary/Primary
PANEL C. Education Supply and the


Education Premium- Tertiary/Secondary



Notes: LAC-7 & Uruguay: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela. SEA MICs: Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, South Korea, and
Thailand.EE MICs: Estonia, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia. PCEs: Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Norway, and Sweden. AT MICs: South Korea, Singapore, and
Thailand. In Panels B and C each color represents a LAC-7 country and each dot represents a (skill premium, relative skill supply) pair. Skill-premia is estimated according to
equation A.2.2 in Box A. Source: Barro-Lee (2010) and LCRCE from SEDLAC.



is, a proportionally small share of professionals in hard disciplines—thus creating, possibly, an
insufficient supply of technical skills and an excess supply in other disciplines, which in turn may
depress the return to tertiary education as a whole as the number of tertiary degrees rises.

In the absence of micro data that could tell us how the premia changed for different careers, there is
little we can do to test this hypothesis. But, if we are ready to accept that the less skill-intense service
subsectors, such as construction or commerce, would be the better equipped to absorb this excess
supply (at the cost of paying less for the mismatched skills), then we should see a larger decline in
skill premia in those sectors. Finally, there is the rising minimum wage effect (the increase of the
minimum wage faster that the average wage), which should bunch wages at and just above the


0%


10%


20%


30%


40%


50%


60%


70%


80%


90%


100%


19
90


19
95


20
00


20
05


20
10


19
90


19
95


20
00


20
05


20
10


19
90


19
95


20
00


20
05


20
10


19
90


19
95


20
00


20
05


20
10


19
90


19
95


20
00


20
05


20
10


SEA MICs EE MICs AT MICs LAC-7 & URY PCEs


Less than Secondary Secondary Completed Tertiary Completed


3
0


%
4


0
%


5
0


%
6


0
%


S
e


c
o


n
d


a
ry


/
P


ri
m


a
ry


E
d


u
c


a
ti


o
n


P
re


m
iu


m


20% 40% 60% 80% 100%


Relative Supply of Education (Secondary/Primary)


LAC-7 Countries


.4
.5


.6
.7


.8
.9


T
e


rt
ia


ry
/


S
e


c
o


n
d


a
ry


E
d


u
c


a
ti


o
n


P
re


m
iu


m


20% 40% 60% 80% 100%


Relative Supply of Education (Tertiary/Secondary)


LAC-7 Countries





54 | Latin America and the Caribbean as Tailwinds Recede: In Search of Higher Growth




FIGURE A.4. The Skill Premium by Age Group


PANEL A. Evolution of the Skill Premium-


Secondary/Primary


PANEL B. Evolution of the Skill Premium-


Tertiary/Secondary



PANEL C. Changes in Skill Premium by


Age Groups- Secondary/Primary
PANEL D. Changes in Skill Premium by


Age Groups- Tertiary/Secondary



Notes: Countries include Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, and Uruguay. Salaried workers. Skill-premia are calculated according to
equation (A.2.5) in Box A. Source: LCRCE from SEDLAC.

minimum, raising the floor and thereby reducing wage dispersion at the bottom, the more so the
greater incidence of minimum wage workers (which, as noted, correlates negatively with skill
intensity). Again, this would imply that low skill sectors should exhibit the greater premium
compression.

In sum, while many factors intervened to explain the fall in wage inequality and the evolution of the
skill premium in LAC7 over the past two decades, the most likely candidates appear to be supply
factors (the growth in educational attainment and, possibly, a mismatch between curricular skills and
those demanded in the labor market) rather than a side effect of tertiarization.

That said, the skill premium puzzle is far from solved. In work in progress by Fernandez-Sierra &
Messina (2013), they apply the classic Oaxaca decomposition to different income distribution
quartiles, and find that changes in the composition of the labor force during the 2000’s contributed to
increase, not to diminish, the inequality of labor earnings in the biggest Latin America’s economies.


1.
4


1.
5


1.
6


1.
7


1.
8


W
a


g
e


R
a


ti
o


1995 2000 2005 2010
Year


25-35 35-45


45+


Secondary/Primary Premium


1.
7


1.
8


1.
9


2
2.


1


W
a


g
e


R
a


ti
o


1995 2000 2005 2010


Year


25-35 35-45


45+


Terciary/Secondary Premium by Age Group


-12%


-10%


-8%


-6%


-4%


-2%


0%


2%


25-34 35-44 45+


1995-2002 2002-2007 2007-2010


-15%


-10%


-5%


0%


5%


10%


15%


25-34 35-44 45+


1995-2002 2002-2007 2007-2010





| 55




Given that the fall in the returns to education often constitutes the main driver behind the decline in
labor income inequality, this research may introduce new evidence that favor demand factors.

As a final remark, note that the characterization of the skill premium decline has important
implications. If demand-driven, one could see the narrowing wage inequality as a symptom of an
economic pattern that discourages investment in sophisticated skill intensive activities (and, in turn,
in human capital). By contrast, if supply-driven, one could regard it as a positive achievement: while
the new middle classes may not have saved much of the additional income (because they still lack an
attractive menu of saving instruments or may be satisfying pent up demand for durable goods; see
Box 2), they have been saving in human capital by increasing years of schooling. A relatively low-pay
skilled job is still economically more rewarding than a high-pay unskilled one. Moreover, one should
expect that the quantitative and qualitative mismatches behind the lower returns to education will be
sorted out over time, as education adapts to the demands in the market, and the market adapts to
the new composition of the labor force, a process that ultimately should benefit skill intensive
activities. At any rate, the puzzle remains a policy-relevant area for future research.




Box A. Estimating the Skill Premium


Throughout Chapter 2 we have used the estimated values of the Tertiary/Secondary skill premium
and the Secondary/Primary skill premium to examine possible explanations of its recent behavior,
particularly its declining trend. In this appendix we describe alternative methodologies to estimate
these premia.

Traditionally, returns to schooling have been estimated using a so-called Mincer regression of the
following form


; (A.1)


where is the wage of individual i at time t, are years of schooling of


individual i at time t, is a vector of individual characteristics which include age, age squared,
gender, ethnicity, and interactions of these variables, and is an idiosyncratic shock. In this
specification measures the additional return for an extra year schooling for individuals with
similar characteristics. Moreover, (A.1) assumes that this additional return is constant. Although a
useful starting point, more flexible specifications of equation (A.1) have emerged as the set of
questions regarding the returns of education has broadened.38

In our tests, we choose one such augmented Mincer regression pioneered by Katz and Murphy
(1992) and vastly used in the strand of the literature studying the skill premium.39 In particular, we
estimate a variant of (A.1) of the form:


; (A.2)



38 Other specifications include polynomials of years of schooling as well as dummy variables for highest educational
degree attained.


39 See Acemoglu, 2002, and Acemoglu and Autor, 2008, for good surveys of the literature.





56 | Latin America and the Caribbean as Tailwinds Recede: In Search of Higher Growth




where now is a dummy variable which takes value 1 if individual i has no High
School degree at time t, is a dummy variable which takes value 1 if individual i has at
least a College degree at time t, and includes sector fixed effects in addition to the controls
mentioned above. In addition, we use a 10 sector classification similar to the one in Timmers and de


Vrie (2007). In this context captures the additional wage received by a College graduate relative
to a High School graduate and measures the additional wage received by a High School
graduate relative to an individual with no High School degree.

Depending on the exercise we perform we estimate 5 variations of equation (A.2):
(A.2.1) Estimates (A.2) country by country, year by year.
(A.2.2) Estimates (A.2) year by year pooling all LAC-7 & Uruguay countries together and controlling
for country dummies.
(A.2.3) Estimates (A.2) sector by sector, year by year, pooling all LAC-7 & Uruguay countries
together and controlling for country dummies.
(A.2.4) Estimates (A.2) country by country, year by year, and sector by sector.
(A.2.5) Estimates (A.2) age group by age group, year by year pooling all LAC-7 & Uruguay
countries together and controlling for country dummies, where we define 3 age groups (25-34, 35-
44, 45+).































| 57




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