Economic Survey of Latin America and the Caribbean

1681-0384 (online)
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The Economic Survey of Latin America and the Caribbean is issued annually by the Economic Development Division of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC). It covers the economic situation in Latin America and the Caribbean and provides a concurrent economic overview of the region, as provided by the Division and other experts based on statistical indicators which are collected annually.
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Economic Survey of Latin America and the Caribbean 1991

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31 Dec 1991
9789210601184 (PDF)

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Published in two volumes - volume I gives insight into the economic trends, the international economy and the role of exchange rate policy in Latin America and the Caribbean. Volume II explores the economic developments by country. Complimentary tables of statistics are included.

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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts Economic trends in Latin America and the Caribbean

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    • Main trends

      In 1991, the economic activity in Latin America and the Caribbean as a whole grew by 3.2%; as a result, per capita output registered its first improvement in four years. At the same time, inflation receded and hyperinflation was virtually eliminated. This moderate progress over previous years was achieved in spite of a relatively unfavourable international environment, which was reflected in the very slow growth of exports and a significant deterioration in the terms of trade.

    • Level of activity

      After three years of virtual stagnation, the level of activity of Latin America and the Caribbean recovered to some extent (3.2%), raising per capita output for the first time since 1987. Nevertheless, under the persistent effects of the debt crisis and adjustment processes, regional output for 1991 was only 16% higher than that of pre-crisis 1980, while per capita output was 8% below its 1980 level and equal to that of 1977. The carryover of Brazil's recession, with its high inflation rates, had a considerable impact on regional growth, since that country's economy represents close to a third of the total output of Latin America and the Caribbean. The other economies expanded at an average rate of 4.4%, and 2.2% in per capita terms, both increases that had not been seen since 1980.

    • Total supply and demand

      In 1991, the overall economy of Latin America and the Caribbean recovered slightly after three years of virtual stagnation. This was reflected in upturns in activity level, total supply and domestic availability of goods and services, in response to a revival of private investment (which in many cases had been at a very precarious level) and, to a lesser extent, to the expansion of exports. However, the effects of the severe economic crisis which has eroded levels of well-being in the region since the early 1980s are still far from being overcome.

    • Macroeconomic policy and inflation
    • Employment and wages

      The moderate, if uneven, recovery of economic activity in the region as a whole in 1991, sparked modest growth in employment in formal activities and a slight decrease in unemployment, which still affects more than 5.5% of the workforce in the urban area. The differing rates of increase, however (in several countries, it was very slight and, in others, the level of activity even went down) were mirrored in the very heterogeneous development of formal employment, which rose satisfactorily in some countries while in others the downward trend of the 1980s continued.

    • Public finances

      Public finances in Latin America reached a turning point at the end of 1991, owing to significant progress in the fiscal adjustment processes launched in previous years and the budget control measures taken in most of the countries of the region. The sale of government-owned enterprises and other assets also gained momentum during the year. Improved budgetary performance helped in most cases to reverse the trends observed throughout the 1980s. The marked imbalance in public finances was one of the most important components of the economic crisis that affected the region during that decade. The recession was most evident in the severe problems of public-sector financing, caused by large deficits -aggravated by the effects of declining revenues and the debt burden-, and the sharp drop in external financing.

    • The external sector

      In 1991 the Latin American and Caribbean economies were influenced by events in the international economy which had differing impacts on their export markets and on the cost and volume of external credit.

    • The external debt
    • Economic trends in the Caribbean in 1991
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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts Economic developments by country

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    • Argentina
    • Bolivia
    • Brazil

      In 1991 the Brazilian economy was once again buffeted by heavy turbulence. Accelerating inflation, constant failure to moderate it, and the prolongation of the recession dominated the economic scene. Even though inflation was only around a fourth Of what it was in 1990, it was still extremely high (480%), with a clear upward trend from June onward, reaching almost 25% per month during the last quarter. Complex economic measures were taken throughout the year, from heterodox actions on prices to the application of orthodox monetary policies. Thus, the rules of the game again changed frequently, a phenomenon that has become more and more common since the mid-1980s and one that has helped to spread a growing uncertainty about the future of the economy. Meagre results also reflected the serious obstacles that fiscal and monetary policies faced during the year, such as the sharp drop in public income -15% in real terms- and the beginning of the gradual release of financial resources frozen in March 1990, which by the end of the year represented a sum of close to 2.5% of gross domestic product (GDP).

    • Colombia
    • Costa Rica
    • Cuba

      The difficulties plaguing the Cuban economy since the second half of the 1980s, brought on by the gradual economic decline of the member countries of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (CMEA), grew worse in the 1990-1991 biennium. Obstacles to obtaining supplies of raw materials and capital goods and deteriorating terms of trade were aggravated by the debt crisis, which was slowly cutting off access to the international capital market, and by adverse weather conditions, such as the severe drought of 1986 and Hurricane Kate. All these factors combined brought the total social product down by nearly 4% in 1987. The level of activity turned around in the next two years, but per capita output remained at a virtual standstill.

    • Chile
    • Ecuador
    • El Salvador
    • Guatemala
    • Haiti
    • Honduras
    • Mexico
    • Nicaragua
    • Panama
    • Paraguay
    • Peru
    • Dominican Republic
    • Uruguay
    • Venezuela
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