Friday, June 06, 2014

Latin American Debt

U.S. and Latin American Relations has a simple table showing total amount of external debt in Latin America, so I spent some time updating it. It poses some challenges.

Total External Debt in Latin America, 1980-2012 ($ billions)

1980
1985
1990
1995
2000
2005
2012
Argentina
27.16
49.33
65.0
101.46
155.02
113.52
141.13
Bolivia
2.34
3.29
3.77
4.78
4.46
4.94
6.28
Brazil
70.56
105.13
122.2
159.26
216.92
169.45
312.9
Chile
11.2
20.4
18.58
25.66
37.18
45.01
117.78
Colombia
6.8
14.06
16.7
26.34
36.13
38.35
78.64
Costa Rica
2.2
4.14
3.7
3.26
3.15
3.63
14.47
Dominican Republic
2.17
3.72
4.3
3.99
3.68
6.75
12.87
Ecuador
4.17
8.11
11.86
13.93
13.22
17.24
15.9
El Salvador
1.18
1.98
2.22
2.17
2.83
4.98
12.12*
Guatemala
1.05
2.69
2.6
2.11
2.64
3.72
6.82*
Honduras
1.39
3.03
3.48
4.24
4.71
5.08
4.84
Mexico
50.7
97.8
98.2
164.01
148.65
127.09
229.03*
Nicaragua
1.82
4.94
8.65
10.25
6.66
5.35
4.289
Panama
2.97
4.76
5.7
5.89
5.6
7.58
10.78*
Paraguay
0.86
1.77
1.76
1.74
2.87
2.76
3.77
Peru
9.59
13.72
17.35
33.36
27.98
28.6
58.83*
Uruguay
2.14
4.9
7.38
5.32
8.89
11.44
21.07*
Venezuela
29.61
34.3
33.01
37.54
36.44
47.23
115.49
*Statistics changed drastically from 2006 report to 2013 report

Source: Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, Publicaciones Estadísticas, http://estadisticas.cepal.org/cepalstat/WEB_CEPALSTAT/PublicacionesEstadisticas.asp?idioma=e

ECLAC revises data from year to year, which I became really aware of when I was making tables for Understanding Latin American Politics. That complicates reporting when you want to show a long period of time. Typically, though, the numbers are revised only a small amount so that the overall patterns you see still hold, and that's really what the table is for. For debt, however, the most recent (2013) report had drastic upward revisions for a few countries. I think patterns still do hold but the absolute numbers are tricky. I put those cases in asterisks and will have to think about the best way to explain.

What we see is an absolute increase in debt. If you look at it instead as a percentage of GDP, it's not nearly as bad. ECLAC did not report that statistic in 1980 so I can't show it across time. But if you compare 2005 to 2012, most countries look a lot better.

Argentina, for example, went from 62.1% of GDP to 29.6% because it had strong growth. But Argentina also shows the limits of these numbers because there is concern that the rosy side is overstated. The quality of numbers is therefore also an issue.

The upshot is that Latin American countries are borrowing a lot and countries like China have been dishing it out. The problem comes when economic growth slows, as when commodity prices drop, and servicing it eats up a greater share of your capital.


1 comments:

cassandramortimer 2:01 PM  

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