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September 2018

Bank credit allocation in Latin America and the Caribbean

Eva M. Gutiérrez's picture

The recent economic growth performance of the countries in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) has been hampered by poor productivity growth. While many factors explain the poor productivity and growth performance in the region, lack of financial development, particularly long-term credit to fund productivity-enhancing investments, is often cited as a problem.

Banking systems are the main providers of long-term financing to the private sector around the world.  Regardless of their size or the income level in their country of origin, to fund

fixed assets, firms obtain most of their financing from banks. Households’ main long-term investment, housing, is also overwhelmingly financed by banks.

Ten Years after Lehman: Where are we now?

Asli Demirgüç-Kunt's picture

The tenth anniversary of the collapse of Lehman Brothers is a good opportunity for us all to reflect on the global financial crisis and the lessons we have learned from it. By now, there is widespread agreement that the crisis was caused by excessive risk-taking by financial institutions. There were increases in leverage and risk-taking, which took the form of excessive reliance on wholesale funding, lower lending standards, inaccurate credit ratings, and complex structured instruments. But why did it happen? How could such a crisis originate in the United States, home to arguably the most sophisticated financial system in the world? At the time, my colleagues and I argued incentive conflicts were at the heart of the crisis and identified reforms that would improve incentives by increasing transparency and accountability in the financial industry as well as government. After all, if large, politically powerful institutions regularly expect to be bailed out if they get into trouble, it is understandable that their risk appetite will be much higher than what is socially optimal.

Sowing the seeds for rural finance: The impact of support services for credit unions in Mexico

Miriam Bruhn's picture

Low and volatile agricultural incomes, poor connectivity, low population density and limited information are just a few reasons that have kept commercial banks away of rural areas in developing countries, where nonbank financial institutions (such as MFIs, cooperatives, or credit unions) have played an important role.

However, these rural institutions tend to be small and often suffer from bad risk management, poor governance, and weak technical and managerial capacity. These constraints are in turn passed on to the borrowers in the form of higher interest rates and credit rationing. The lack of human and organizational capital among lenders is a type of market failure where public interventions may be both effective and market friendly (Besley, 1994).