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Cyclicality of Fiscal Policy in Latin America over the period 1990 ‐ 2015

Review of Development Economics

Published online on


Latin American countries experienced important changes in the 2000s. The implementation of fiscal reforms, public debt reduction and the high level of accumulated reserves gave them more policy space than in the past. As a result, Latin American countries were able to implement countercyclical policies to face the negative economic and social consequences associated with the recent macroeconomic shock. Some countries performed better than others. In particular, Social Democratic and Centrist governments enjoyed more fiscal space; they had realized larger budget surpluses over the good years and were able to cope with the crisis without impairing their fiscal conditions. Yet, Latin America has experienced a public finance deterioration in the most recent years. While governments are showing an increasing ability on taxation they are still facing some problems on the expenditure side. As a result, fiscal policy returned acyclical after the period of the crisis. The sustainability of public accounts may be strengthened increasing tax pressure on the richest, reducing tax evasion and improving current spending efficiency. However, the increasing political problems are putting many questions about future trends of public finance in the region.