Chile's Graduation

Article excerpt

Resilience to the global crisis, improving debt profiles and declining macroeconomic risks, capital inflows and strengthening currencies, low inflation and countercyclical monetary and fiscal policies. Does all that mean that emerging Latin American economies are finally entering into the developed world? Not yet, but some of them are getting closer.

To shed some light on the relative standing of individual countries, the recent Brookings Institutions's Latin American Economic Perspectives report runs a development scorecard that, for simplicity, defines development as the presence of conditions that enable stable and equitable economic growth. Brookings uses this scorecard to rank Latin American economies relative to their emerging and developed peers, based on a few critical development dimensions: growth performance, fiscal and monetary policy, financial health, and other long-run development factors such as income distribution, human development, and institutional quality, that tend to have less immediate but more persistent influence on a country's growth potential.

Comparisons with advanced economies like Australia or Canada, to the extent that the latter represent reasonable graduation targets for Latin American countries, shed some light on Latin America's "distance to development." The results are predictable: the region scores close to target in risk-adjusted growth, macro policy track record, and financial health--a reflection of the deep structural progress on the macro financial front in the 2000s. By contrast, these nations lag visibly in long-run development factors. After conquering macroeconomic stability, Latin American countries must now bridge the persistent development gap.

Deficits in microeconomic aspects, previously dwarfed by volatile cycles, recurrent spells of financial distress, and more recently, the global crisis, are now coming to the forefront. Programs for health and education to support productivity growth, social protection to enhance human capital, and institutional reform to stimulate local entrepreneurship, foreign direct investment, and public-private cooperation have begun to take center stage in the region. These are all long-term strategic issues that require a solid and stable growth backdrop to avoid falling prey to the short-term concerns that have plagued Latin American politics in the past. …