The devastating impact of the global financial crisis, which consequently turned into a global economic crisis, created a consensus that pre-crisis financial regulation didn’t take the “Big Picture” of the system as a whole sufficiently into account. As a result, according to the views of many, supervisors in many markets “missed the forest for the tress”.
Latin America and Caribbean
(All credits go to SECOM for this information)
President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva announces US$ 526 billion in public and private investments over 2011-2014
Yesterday, Brazil launched phase two of the Growth Acceleration Program (PAC 2), announcing estimated investments of US$ 526 billion (R$ 958.9 billion) for the period from 2011 to 2014. PAC 2 includes new investment projects for the periods 2011 to 2014 and post-2014, as well as projects initiated during PAC 1 with activities that will conclude after 2010. For the period following 2014, the estimated investment is US$ 346.4 billion (R$ 631.6 billion). The two periods combined reach an amount of US$ 872.3 billion (R$ 1.59 trillion).
PAC is a strategic investment program that combines management initiatives and public works. In its first phase, launched in 2007, the program called for investments of US$ 349 billion (R$ 638 billion), of which 63.3% has been applied.
Similar to the first phase of the program, PAC 2 focuses on investments in the areas of logistics, energy and social development, organized under six major initiatives: Better Cities (urban infrastructure); Bringing Citizenship to the Community (safety and social inclusion); My House, My Life (housing); Water and Light for All (sanitation and access to electricity); Energy (renewable energy, oil and gas); and Transportation (highways, railways, airports).
“I consider PAC 2 as a portfolio of projects that the next administration can build from rather than starting from scratch, as there is no time to lose,” said President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva during the announcement of the program.
PAC 2 Initiative in Detail...
The financial system, measured by assets, profits, contribution to GDP, stock market capitalization, employment etc, has expanded rapidly since 1990. For example, global financial assets were about 50 trillion in 1989 and increased to about 200 trillion by 2007, during the same period financial depth increased from 200% of world GDP to 400% in 2007. The financial crisis has raised a plethora of issues, many of which are inter-twined. There have been failures on all fronts – market failures in the form of financial firms innovating new instruments while neglecting risk management practices, credit rating agencies failing in rating assets without much thought to risk, private auditors not checking Lehman Brothers’ assets and liabilities, government failures in the form of central bank keeping interest rates low in the run up to the crisis, and government entities such as Fannie and Freddie involved in mortgage lending and making enormous losses, and failure by regulators for not checking the books of financial firms such as Lehman Brothers that were moving toxic assets of the balance sheets, and last but least the financial economists who failed to foresee to crisis. There is plenty of blame to go around but one thing is clear: State ownership of financial firms is back. After decades of rising foreign ownership of banks (shrinking state ownership) in almost all regions, except the Middle East and South Asia, the trend could be reversed especially in the developed countries.
The crisis has shifted focus from foreign private ownership to some state ownership, from micro to macro prudential regulations, to re-assessment of deposit insurance, lender of last resort, and implicit guarantees, to consumer protection and taxpayer protection, from mark to market accounting to mark to funding, to revamping of credit rating agencies, to crisis in corporate governance and questioning of remuneration in financial firms, and to strengthening of supervision. These and a number of related issues of interest to policy makers are discussed below.
Given the large set of issues arising from the crisis, the major challenges facing countries are essentially two: (i) Government entities which are subsidizing directed credit (e.g. Frannie and Freddie in USA; similar type of ‘chaebol’ lending to industrial firms triggered the Asian crisis of 1997); and (ii) universality of too big to fail entities, where systemic important firms, often politically powerful conglomerates that are controlled by elites, have to be bailed out, which in turn leads to the moral hazard problem, where the large entity is considered worthy saving at all costs, including use of lender of last resort facilities from the Central Bank and tax payers money from the Treasury. The too big to fail entities also then knowingly max-out on leveraged lending (40 to one in case of USA) and ‘gamble’ on financially innovative instruments (e.g. mortgage-backed securities and credit default swaps in case of USA). The large entities also have the political clout to suppress regulations and/or evade regulations. Successful regulation requires that the regulator should have information on exposure to systemic risks. Too big to fail institutions were exposed to CD swaps (e.g. AIG in USA) and we knew little about its exposure. The reason is that there is data on a firm by firm but there is no agency that can put it all together. But policy makers and politicians are reluctant to address these two problems head on. Instead the focus on a large set of problems, as detailed below, and obfuscate the issues.
(Thanks and credits for sharing this information go to the Brazilian Secretariat of Social Communication - SECOM)
Social development and progress continue to stay strong in Brazil:
- Brazil tops global ranking in fight against hunger: In a recent report published by anti-poverty NGO ActionAid, Brazil ranks first among developing countries for its progress in the fight against hunger.
- Brazil’s “Bolsa Familia” income transfer program raises literacy rates: Newly released data reveals that half a million beneficiaries of Brazil’s cash transfer program became literate in 2006 and 2007, and the number of people registered for public literacy programs increased by 12 percent.
With one of the world’s largest populations, Brazil’s government has invested heavily in programs to eliminate poverty and hunger and improve access to services and opportunities in low-income communities. These efforts and their success to date earned Brazil’s President Lula UNESCO’s prestigious Félix Houphouët-Boigny Peace Prize in July, and Brazil’s Minister of Social Development the World Future Council’s Future Policy Award just a few weeks ago.
Detailed information can be found below.
(Thanks and Credits for this information go to the Brazilian Secretariat of Social Communication - SECOM)
The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) has recently publish the 2008 edition of its Statistical Yearbook, which contains social, economic and environmental data from the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean, including a section on Poverty.
This is one of the main ideas proposed today in the presentation at the World Bank of the new flagship report from the Latin America and the Caribbean Region "Poverty Reduction and Growth: Virtuous and Vicious Circles".