Description : This paper reviews central banks’ legal reform in Latin America during the 1990s and discusses the status of central bank independence in the region. Based on this information, it builds a simplified index of central bank independence which, in addition to the commonly used criteria of political and economic independence, incorporates provisions of central banks’ financial autonomy, accountability, and lender-of-last-resort. The paper finds a moderate negative correlation between increased central bank independence and inflation during 1999–2001 in 14 Latin American countries. Dissagregating the index, the same analysis suggests that economic independence is the key component driving the observed negative correlation between legal central bank independence and inflation.
Description : This study takes stock of the institutional reform of monetary policy in Latin America since the early 1990s. It argues that strengthening the legal independence of central banks, together with macroeconomic policies, was instrumental in reducing inflation from three-digit annual rates in the 1990s to single-digit territory in 2004. The paper also discusses the main challenges of monetary policy today, namely, achieving price stability, restoring market confidence in domestic currencies, and sticking to policy consistency despite adverse effects of the volatility of capital flows. Finally, recurrent banking crises and lack of fiscal discipline are identified as the main risks for the success of monetary policy in Latin America.
Description : This paper reviews central bank legislation in 24 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean during the 1990s. Using panel regressions, we find a negative relationship between legal central bank independence (CBI) and inflation. This result holds for three alternative measures of CBI and after controlling for international inflation, banking crises, and exchange regimes. The result is also robust to the inclusion of a broader indicator of structural reforms that usually go along with changes in central bank legislation, illustrating the complementary nature of various aspects of economic reform. The paper fails, however, to find a causal relationship running from CBI to inflation.
Description : This paper reviews the nature of central bank involvement in 26 episodes of financial disturbance and crises in Latin America from the mid-1990s onwards. It finds that, except in a handful of cases, large amounts of central bank money were used to cope with large and small crises alike. Pouring central bank money into the financial system generally derailed monetary policy, fueled further macroeconomic unrest, and contributed to simultaneous currency crises, thereby aggravating financial instability. In contrast, when central bank money issuance was restricted and bank resolution was timely executed, financial disturbances were handled with less economic cost. However, this strategy worked provided appropriate institutional arrangements were in place, which highlights the importance of building a suitable framework for preventing and managing banking crises.
Description : This paper addresses the question of why inflation has not yet converged to price stability in Central America and the Dominican Republic and is currently relatively high by Latin American standards. It suggests that despite the institutional strengthening of monetary policy, important flaws remain in most central banks, in particular a lack of a clear policy mandate and little political autonomy, which are adversely affecting the consistency of policy implementation. Empirical analysis reveals that all central banks raise interest rates to curtail inflation but only some of them increase it sufficiently to effectively tackle inflation pressures. It also shows that some central banks care simultaneously about exchange rate stability. The potential policy conflict arising from a dual central bank mandate and the unpredictable policy response is probably undermining markets'' confidence in central banks'' commitment to price stability, thereby perpetuating an inflation bias.
Description : We assess monetary regime options for Latin American countries. The costs of a common currency are likely to outweigh its benefits, as those countries face diverse economic shocks, do not trade much with each other, and are affected by common international financial shocks only to the same extent as the average pair of emerging markets. Unilateral dollarization would be desirable only for those countries where there are strong links to the U.S. economy, the credibility of the monetary authorities is irreversibly lost, and there is keen demand for dollar-denominated financial assets. Finally, some countries in the region seem to be good candidates for meaningful and useful floating.
Description : "Well-written paper discusses institutional reforms needed for dismantling the populist State. Contends that such reforms, no matter how painful, must be made immediately to consolidate gains from earlier reforms"--Handbook of Latin American Studies, v. 57.
Description : This paper highlights that central banks from Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru (the LA5 countries) reaped the benefits of what they sowed in successfully weathering the global crisis. The adoption of far-reaching institutional, policy, and operational reforms during the last two decades enabled central banks to build credibility about their commitment with the objective of price stability. Thus, when the 2007 - 08 supply shock and the financial crisis hit the world, the LA5 central banks reacted swiftly and effectively based on a flexible policy framework and with the support of strong macroeconomic and financial foundations. Building on the experience of the LA5 central banks and complementing with recommendations from the IMF’s technical advice, the paper provides several suggestions for countries seeking to strengthen the effectiveness of monetary policy.
Description : Hidden behind a number of economic crises in the mid- to late 1990s-including Argentina's headline-grabbing monetary and political upheaval-is that fact that Latin American economies have, generally speaking, improved dramatically in recent years. Their success has been due, in large part, to macroeconomic reforms, and this book brings together prominent economists and policymakers to assess a decade of such policy shifts, highlighting both the many success stories and the areas in which further work is needed. Contributors offer both case studies of individual countries and regional overviews, covering monetary, financial, and fiscal policy. Contributors also work to identify future concerns and erect clear signposts for future reforms. For instance, now that inflation rates have been stabilized, one suggested "second stage" monetary reform would be to focus on reducing rates from high to low single digits. Financial sector reforms, it is suggested, should center on improving regulation and supervision. And, contributors argue, since fiscal stability has already been achieved in most countries, new fiscal reforms need to concentrate on institutionalizing fiscal discipline, improving the efficiency and equity of tax collection, and modifying institutional arrangements to deal with increasingly decentralized federal systems. The analysis and commentary in this volume-authored not only by academic observers but by key Latin American policymakers with decades of firsthand experience-will prove important to anyone with an interest in the future of Latin American's continuing economic development and reform. Contributors to this volume: José Antonio González, Stanford University Anne O. Krueger, International Monetary Fund Vittorio Corbo, Pontifical Catholic University, Chile Klaus Schmidt-Hebbel, Central Bank of Chile Alejandro Werner, Bank of Mexico Márcio G. P. Garcia, Pontifical Catholic University, Rio Tatiana Didier, World Bank Gustavo H. B. Franco, former president, Central Bank of Brazil Francisco Gil Díaz, Minister of the Treasury, Mexico Roberto Zahler, former governor, Central Bank of Chile Ricardo J. Caballero, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Philip L. Brock, University of Washington Stephen Haber, Stanford University Pablo E. Guidotti, Universidad Torcuato Di Tella, Buenos Aires Vito Tanzi, International Monetary Fund Enrique Dávila, Ministry of Finance, Mexico Santiago Levy, Mexican Social Security Institute Ricardo Fenochietto, private consultant, Buenos Aires Rogério L. F. Werneck, Pontifical Catholic University, Rio Carola Pessino, Universidad Torcuato di Tella, Buenos Aires Michael Michaely, Hebrew University of Jerusalem