Preliminary Overview of the Economy of Latin America and the Caribbean

1684-1417 (online)
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This publication appears at the end of each year. It contains a description and asessment of the economic performance of the region during the year and provides updated, detailed information about the evolution of macroeconomic variables in the region as an aggregate and in most individual countries. It stands as the earliest source of information on the region's economic performance for the entire year. The reports includes a Regional Panorama based on a global and sectoral approach; growth projections for the following year are included. Additionally, individual country chapters cover the economies in Latin American and a the Caribbean. This document is prepared by the Economic Development Division in collaboration with the Statistics Division and the subregional and national offices of the ECLAC.
Preliminary Overview of the Economies of Latin America and the Caribbean 2015

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12 Apr 2016
9789210575256 (PDF)

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This publication highlights a regional slowdown in GDP growth. It argues that the currency depreciation seen in several countries in the region could, if sustained, increase incentives for investment in tradeable sectors other than the region’s traditional exports (commodities), while redirecting expenditure to ease pressure on the current account. Growth-supporting industrial, trade, environmental, social and labour policies that take into account the needs of small and medium-sized enterprises, could help lessen the region’s structural heterogeneity. Growth combined with greater equality would thus gain economic and social sustainability, with greater reliance from investment and exports than before. It is argued that this combination would be aided by social covenants for investment.
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  • Executive summary
    Global economic growth is still sluggish, and will remain so in the medium term. The world economy grew by 2.4% in 2015, slightly less than the 2.6% posted in 2014. In 2016 the global economy is expected to recover somewhat, with expansion of 2.9%.
  • Global economic trends
    World economic growth slowed from 2.6% in 2014 to 2.4% in 2015, a drop of 0.2 percentage points. Underlying this outcome was the slowdown in developing economies, where growth declined from 4.3% in 2014 to 3.8% in 2015, and particularly China, which grew by less than 7% for the first time since 1990 (6.8% in 2015).
  • The external sector
  • Economic activity
  • Domestic prices
  • Employment and wages
    Whereas an unusually sharp fall in the labour participation rate mitigated the labour market impact of the economic slowdown in 2014, a year later the labour market’s adjustment to the cooling regional economy reverted to the more usual historical patterns in Latin America and the Caribbean. 19 In 2015, the decline in labour participation stopped, and the larger number of individuals seeking income in the job market amid slack labour demand pushed up both open unemployment and time-related underemployment. It also caused a deterioration in employment composition, with a larger proportion of employment appearing in low-productivity activities, particularly own-account work, and very sparse creation of wage employment. As a result, average labour productivity declined sharply. In some countries, rising inflation also eroded real wages, which, compounded by the weak growth of employment and its deteriorating composition, reduced household purchasing power.
  • Macroeconomic policies
  • Risks and outlook for 2016
    A number of scenarios and possible risks will arise in the global economy in 2016 and will unquestionably affect the course of economic activity in the Latin American and Caribbean region. As noted earlier, projections for the next few years are for low global growth, sustained by slow but steady recovery in the developed economies. Serious risks remain, however, which could jeopardize that trajectory. Aside from the eurozone’s ongoing difficulties, uncertainty has been mounting over the future performance of China and the emerging economies in general. In the case of China, the most likely scenarios point to continued economic slowdown, with a growth rate of around 6.4% in 2016. Trends in the emerging economies are clouding the aggregate external demand outlook for the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean.
  • Statistical annex
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