Latin America and Caribbean Face Greater Pandemic Vulnerabilities According to New Research Map

A new online map highlights vulnerabilities that countries face in Latin America and the Caribbean. Jubilee USA Network and LATINDADD, two groups working on pandemic response, published the new online database detailing growing challenges faced by developing countries due to the pandemic.  

"Our new database and map is a resource for world leaders to make decisions on the growing health and economic challenges that countries face because of the pandemic," noted Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of one of the groups that created the research map, Jubilee USA Network. "This information can help the G20 and IMF make decisions with real data that shows the pandemic impacted the income of countries in sectors like tourism," continued LeCompte. "We can see that developing countries had challenges before the coronavirus that made the pandemic worse."

The Atlas of Vulnerability highlights limitations developing countries face in responding to the pandemic. The research and map focus on 24 Latin America and Caribbean countries. 

"Our map brings together the whole range of economic, social and climate weaknesses that cripple pandemic response in developing countries.” said Patricia Miranda, Global Advocacy Director of LATINDADD. “The result of the research overcomes artificial categories of developing low- or middle-income countries. In Latin America, middle-income countries are the majority and were left out by global recovery policies."

Currently, only countries categorized by the World Bank as low-income can access emergency debt payment relief and other pandemic relief measures. The two groups argue that this approach may dangerously underestimate how middle-income countries are suffering pandemic damage.

The map includes data from 12 vulnerability dimensions: external sector, fiscal sector, private sector, health system preparedness, education, employment/social security, food/nutrition, climate, gender, poverty, inequality and physiological conditions. 

The online interface allows the viewer to see up to 55 indicators, find the top five vulnerability factors, pull up historical performance and compare with benchmarks from developed economies for each country. 

Some key data findings the map shows include:

  • For more than half of the countries, tourism dependence is higher than the world average.
  • Regional governments paid an interest rate 7.5% higher than that paid by the U.S. to borrow from international markets.
  • Tax revenue as a share of the economy is below the average in industrialized countries, except in one country. In 6 countries, it is less than half the average. 
  • In most countries, the number of people who died in the first year of the pandemic is more than 10% higher than the previous five year average, with four countries exceeding 55%. The average across Latin America is 2.7 times higher than in OECD countries.
  • Five countries have COVID-19 vaccination rates under 5% and only three countries reached more than 40%.
  • In more than half of the surveyed countries, less than 12% of the population can access any type of social safety net program, and it is only above 40% in one country.
  • More than 75% of countries show less climate response capacity than the global average.
  • More than 20% of people live in poverty in all but two of the countries, and poverty rates rose in all countries during the pandemic.

"The pandemic exacerbated developing countries’ vulnerabilities and we suffer the impacts now. If global policies don’t take them into account, recovery will take longer for our countries and our people, where women and girls bear the highest burden,” said Veronica Serafini, LATINDADD’s Gender and Macroeconomics Officer.

Developing country pandemic response is on the agenda for G20 leaders when they meet in Rome at the end of October.

“The hope is that presenting the data in this way will provide a clearer picture of the challenges in developing countries,” shared Aldo Caliari, Jubilee USA's senior policy director. “We need more action from wealthy countries so developing countries can confront the global crisis.”

On Wednesday, Jubilee USA and LATINDADD host a virtual event to present and provide a short tutorial on the map as well as discuss its findings with the UN Economic Commission on Latin America and the Caribbean, the International Labor Organization, and Climate Service Center of Germany. 

Explore the Atlas of Vulnerability: Developing Countries and the Pandemic here.

Read selected findings from the Atlas of Vulnerability here.

Read the full brief "Atlas of Vulnerability: The Pandemic in Latin America and the Caribbean" here.

Register for the map launch and virtual tutorial on October 27, 2021, 10:00 AM ET here.

Read More

World Leaders and Development Banks Coordinate Investments to Fight Pandemic, Poverty and Climate Change

Heads of state, finance ministers and 450 public banks conclude two days of meetings for the second “Finance in Common Summit” in Rome. The summit focuses on agricultural development and previous commitments on COVID recovery, development and climate policies.

“The summit convenes world leaders and banks to align $2.3 trillion, or ten percent of all global investments in common development goals,” noted Eric LeCompte, a United Nations finance expert and Executive Director of the religious development group Jubilee USA Network. “Coordinating lending and aid can help developing countries respond to the worsening health and economic crises spurred by the pandemic.” 

Increasing agriculture investments, as millions face starvation and food shortages, is a central theme of the summit. Ahead of a November conference on climate, banks assess their contributions on climate policies.  

“Development banks must make the case that they can increase financing for poor countries by accepting donations from wealthy countries,” shared LeCompte. “In August, wealthy countries received $400 billion of an emergency IMF currency that can be shared with development banks for pandemic and climate response efforts.”

The IMF created $650 billion of emergency currency, or Special Drawing Rights, to help countries respond to the pandemic. The G20 and IMF are working on processes for wealthy countries to disburse some of their currency holdings to poor countries.

Read More

The Bond Buyer References Eric LeCompte on the Future of Puerto Rico's Debt

The Bond Buyer referenced Eric LeCompte in an article on the future of Puerto Rico's debt following House Bill 1003, a new bond restructuring which is likely to pass through Congress next week. Read an excerpt below and the full article here. 

Questions remain about Puerto Rico deal's viability

When observers were asked if Puerto Rico would be able to afford the deal in the long term, most expressed skepticism. “Strategically speaking, it is a smart move from the [board],” said Fernós Sagebien. “This places the entire burden on the Puerto Rico’s two branches of government [executive and legislative] responsible for the budget as they are now forced to identify nonexistent free cash flow in order for Office of Management and Budget to honor the full pension expenditure.

He said the deal was not affordable and “I don’t believe any of the three parties (Federal Oversight and Management Board, executive branch, and legislative branch) involved care. They all know time is of the essence and we are running out ... they have proven unfit to serve. The citizens of Puerto Rico feel like this is like in Evolutionary Game Theory’s ‘Red Queen's race’: ‘constantly running but remaining in the same spot.’”

Marxuach said the feasibility of the deal could be measured using economic development tools or simply through examining whether it would prevent hunger, provide a good education, decent healthcare, and a reasonable livelihood for the elderly.

“I fear though that Judge Taylor Swain has a strong incentive to approve a plan, any plan,regardless of whether or not it is the best plan for Puerto Rico and the current circumstances,” Marxuach said. “She was appointed to this job by Chief Justice [John Roberts, Jr.] so it is in her professional interests to confirm a plan and put an end to this long process. The risk is that a whole generation of Puerto Ricans would be paying the price of living with a ‘good enough’ plan for decades to come.”

Jubilee USA Network Executive Director Eric LeCompte said, “If not enough debt was cut and revenue plans fail, Puerto Rico will likely default again in a few years. Growth assumptions seem unrealistic, austerity slows growth and Medicare and other federal monies are not certain."

Read more here. 

Read More

Reuters Cites Eric LeCompte on Global Pandemic Response

Reuters quoted Eric LeCompte in an article discussing the top concerns for policymakers at the World Bank and International Monetary Fund annual meetings. Read an excerpt below and the full article here.

Analysis: Supply chains, inflation cloud vaccine, debt woes at IMF-World Bank meetings

By David Lawder and Andrea Shalal

Supply chain woes and growing inflation concerns pushed aside a widening gap in COVID-19 vaccinations and mounting debt problems for developing countries as the top concerns for global policymakers at International Monetary Fund and World Bank annual meetings this week.

Relatively little new progress was made on increasing vaccine supplies to developing countries, although officials highlighted an increasing divergence between rich and poor countries as a growing financial and economic risk.

The focus on the normalization pains that wealthier economies are experiencing and a World Bank data-rigging scandal that had clouded the future of IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva proved a disappointment for anti-poverty groups.

"Given how the pandemic is becoming worse in most of the world's countries, I'm concerned by the lack of action at the meetings on vaccine distribution, debt relief and general pandemic response," said Eric LeCompte, executive director of the Jubilee USA Network, a religious development group.

Read more here.

Read More

IMF and World Bank Annual Meetings Conclude

Faith Communities around the Country and World call for a COVID Response that Prioritizes the Poor and the Planet

World leaders met for annual IMF, World Bank and G20 meetings. The IMF lowered economic growth projections for all countries, and downgraded United States growth projections for 2021.

"World leaders agree that low vaccination rates in developing countries lead to more COVID variants and economic challenge for all countries,” noted Eric LeCompte who heads the religious development coalition Jubilee USA Network. “The IMF and G20 failed to offer a plan to get vaccinations and sufficient aid to developing countries. The crisis will worsen unless we get this done quickly."

The IMF shared that less than 4% of the population in low-income countries is vaccinated.

In August, the IMF created $650 billion in emergency currency for pandemic response which could help with vaccination distribution. G20 finance ministers are working on ways for wealthy countries to transfer their emergency currency or Special Drawing Rights to poor countries. Wealthy countries hold more than $400 billion in pandemic response funds.

“Wealthy countries should donate, rather than loan, their emergency currency reserves that they cannot use to developing countries,” stated LeCompte. “We support plans for a new IMF fund that can provide long-term loans to middle-income countries, which have been left out of the pandemic response to date.” 

Resiliency and Sustainability Trust can support a number of efforts including combating climate change.

"World leaders were clear at the IMF and G20 meetings that climate change will continue to cause significant economic shocks for countries," stated LeCompte.

The G20 pledged to do more on debt relief through the Common Framework it launched last year in response to the pandemic. The IMF announced an extension of debt payment relief for 24 countries through January 10, 2022. Additional relief may be extended to April 13, 2022, if the IMF's Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust has resources. 

“Debt grew dramatically during the crisis and too many countries are not bringing in enough revenue to combat the pandemic,” added LeCompte. “Developing countries are concerned about their debt and coronavirus recovery as the G20 debt suspension ends and central banks are beginning to consider rate increases.”

Organized by Jubilee USA Network this weekend, more than a hundred organizations and faith communities are organizing G20 petition drives, hosting educational events and dedicating worship services for “Jubilee Weekend: A COVID Response that Shares Medicine, Ends Poverty and Protects our Planet.” Faith communities from Kentucky to Colorado and California to Georgia are calling on the G20 and IMF to provide additional aid and debt cancellation for developing countries to prevent future crises and protect people and planet. Around the world, the Asian Peoples' Movement on Debt and Development (Jubilee Asia Pacific) convened 100 plus global organizations to host actions and events through the end of October.

“The coronavirus already wiped out a decade of development, throwing millions of people into poverty,” stated LeCompte. “Faith and anti-poverty organizations are calling on world leaders to take immediate action on a pandemic response plan that increases aid and support for vulnerable countries.”

Read the list of groups and faith communities participating in "Jubilee Weekend: A COVID Response that Shares Medicine, Ends Poverty and Protects our Planet," here.

Read Jubilee USA's press statement on the IMF and World Bank Development Committee Communiqué here.

Read Jubilee USA's press statement on the International Monetary and Financial Committee Communiqué here.

Read Jubilee USA's press release on the IMF's World Economic Outlook and Global Financial Stability reports here

Read Jubilee USA's press statement on the G20 Finance Ministers Meeting here

Read More

Jubilee USA Statement on Development Committee Communiqué

The Development Committee, a ministerial-level consensus building and policymaking body for the World Bank and the IMF, met as part of the IMF and World Bank Annual Meetings.  

Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of the religious development group Jubilee USA Network and a United Nations finance expert who monitored IMF and World Bank meetings since 2010, releases the following statement on the Development Committee Communiqué and IMF and World Bank Annual Meetings:

"Developing countries are struggling with rising coronavirus cases, a lack of vaccines and not enough resources to confront the pandemic.

"The pandemic pushed a hundred million people into poverty and hundreds of millions more face starvation and food shortages.

"While world leaders recognize developing countries need vaccines to prevent global economic shocks, there is a failure to fund and distribute vaccines.

"Debt relief and aid are needed to overcome vaccine shortages and for pandemic response in the poorest countries.

"The Development Committee needs to support wealthy countries to use Special Drawing Rights to finance lending at development banks.

"There is growing willingness to increase IDA or international development assistance. Development banks need this support if they are going to respond to the pandemic.

"A lack of tax collection means developing countries lack revenue to confront the crisis.

"The World Bank must do more to get resources to countries to combat climate change.

"The Development Committee is pushing for us to be prepared for the next crisis and do more to protect the vulnerable during the pandemic."

Read the Development Committee communiqué here

Read More

Associated Press Cites Eric LeCompte on the IMF's COVID Economic Recovery and Inflation Prediction

Associated Press cited Eric LeCompte in an article discussing the IMF's warning that rising inflation will harm economic recovery from the COVID pandemic. Read an excerpt below and the full article here.

IMF warns economy recovery threatened by virus, inflation

By Martin Crutsinger

Critics have cited the incident to support their contentions that China and other nations are seeking to exercise improper influence over the IMF, the World Bank and other international financial institutions.

Yellen said the IMF and the other organizations need to find ways to enhance the rights of whistleblowers.

“The United States will monitor developments closely and evaluate any new facts and findings should they become available,” Yellen said.

Anti-poverty groups on Thursday expressed disappointment that the IMF was not more specific on how the agency plans to boost vaccination rates and provide increased resources to fight climate change.

“Given how the pandemic is becoming worse in most of the world's countries, I'm concerned by the lack of action at the meetings on vaccine distribution, debt relief and general pandemic response,” Eric LeCompte, executive director of the religious development group Jubilee USA Network, said in a statement.

“It's baffling that we still don't have plans for the funding and distribution of vaccines to reach all developing countries,” LeCompte said.

Read more here.

Read More

Devex Cites Eric LeCompte on Global Corporate MinimumTax

Devex cited Eric LeCompte on the recent agreement by 136 countries for a new global corporate minimum tax rate. Read an excerpt below and the full article here.

Devex Invested: Can business really solve global problems?

By Adva Saldinger

On Friday, 136 countries agreed to a new 15% global corporate minimum tax rate that would make it harder for companies to avoid paying taxes, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. It was not agreed to by four lower-income nations involved in the process: Kenya, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.

While high-income countries will benefit more than their low-income counterparts in this deal, it is a “step in the right direction” and could help middle-income countries, Eric LeCompte, the executive director at Jubilee USA Network, tells me.

Read more here.

Read More

Jubilee USA Statement on World Bank and IMF Annual Meetings and IMFC Communiqué

As part of the World Bank and IMF Annual Meetings, the International Monetary and Financial Committee (IMFC), the IMF policymaking body, met on COVID-19 economic crisis response and recovery, debt, aid, Special Drawing Rights, tax and climate.

Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of the religious development group Jubilee USA Network and a United Nations finance expert who monitored IMF meetings since 2010, releases the following statement on the IMFC Communiqué and IMF and World Bank Annual Meetings:

"Given how the pandemic is becoming worse in most of the world's countries, I'm concerned by the lack of action at the meetings on vaccine distribution, debt relief and general pandemic response.

"As world leaders meet, there is a clear consensus that the lack of vaccine access in developing countries leads to more virus mutations and global economic challenges.

"It's baffling that we still don't have plans for the funding and distribution of vaccines to reach all developing countries.

"In the poorest countries, more than 96% of the populations are unvaccinated.

"The creation of $650 billion in emergency currency, or Special Drawing Rights, to fight the pandemic is important.

"Now the focus is finding ways for wealthy countries to transfer their Special Drawing Rights to developing countries.  

"The Resilience and Sustainability Trust is an important vehicle for wealthy countries to share their Special Drawing Rights with developing countries to fight climate change.

"The new trust can provide long-term loans and includes vulnerable developing middle-income countries.

"It's encouraging that transferring Special Drawing Rights to development banks, is still being explored. This option could significantly increase funds for health and other public services. 

"When a growing number of countries need IMF support, charging penalties and surcharges to members with loans is highly concerning. 

"As the G20 debt suspension initiative ends, central banks prepare to raise interest rates. As interest rates rise, the debt crisis worsens in developing countries.

"The meetings failed to deliver details on how countries can reduce debts and how we can ensure that private creditors will participate in debt relief.

"The Common Framework must drastically cut debts as the pandemic worsens in poor countries.

"It's promising that global agreements to curb tax avoidance and evasion are moving forward. The IMF must continue to look as how these tax policies can benefit developing countries.

"Climate and stability of the global economy are closely linked.

"It's clear that climate change is causing economic challenges and shocks for many countries.

"Finance ministers are asking the IMF to do more to tackle economic and financial risks related to climate change."

Read the International Monetary and Financial Committee communiqué here.

Read Jubilee USA's press release on the IMF World Economic Outlook and Global Financial Stability Report here.

Read More

Jubilee USA Statement on G20 Finance Minister Meeting

Ahead of the World Bank and IMF Annual Meetings, G20 finance ministers and central bank governors met on COVID response, green and inclusive recovery, debt, Special Drawing Rights and global tax agreements.

Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of the religious development group Jubilee USA Network and a United Nations finance expert who monitored G20 meetings since 2010, releases the following statement on the G20 finance ministers meeting and communiqué:

"New COVID mutations are the biggest risk to the global economy.

"The G20 is failing to take urgent action on financing and distribution of vaccines.

"The August creation of $650 billion in emergency currency, or Special Drawing Rights, provides much needed pandemic relief. 

"The agreement to establish a Resilience and Sustainability Trust at the IMF allows wealthy countries to aid vulnerable middle-income developing countries.

"Donating Special Drawing Rights, rather than lending them, should remain on the table as countries struggle with too much debt.

"It's critical that Special Drawing Rights are transferred from wealthy countries to developing countries.

"The G20 understands that development banks need to lend more. More resources and capital need to be raised so development banks can do more.

"At this time of emergency, the IMF should stop its practice of charging penalty rates or surcharges to members with loans. 

"Debt levels grew dramatically everywhere and are a major concern in developing countries still struggling with the pandemic. 

"We are worried about the G20 debt suspension initiative and the 46 countries that need to resume payments in January.

"Developing countries are struggling with debt and are incredibly worried as central banks look to increase interest rates.

"The G20 must show that it can deliver on sufficient debt relief for struggling countries.

"The global agreement on corporate and digital taxes represents important progress to curb tax avoidance and evasion. 

"The G20 missed an opportunity to set a higher global minimum tax rate and support rules to make sure that developing countries can capture more tax revenue.

"The G20 continues to make strong connections between climate change and financial policies.

"The G20 is making a difference by pushing development banks to align their actions with the Paris Agreement on climate.

"G20 leadership is critical for the climate crisis to be addressed as part of pandemic response."

Read More

IMF: Wealthy and Poor Countries Face COVID Economic Challenges

2021 Growth Projections Downgraded for United States

The IMF World Economic Outlook report lowered economic growth projections for wealthy and poor countries. The IMF forecasts 5.9% global economic growth.

"What's most striking is that we are looking at economies declining both in wealthy and poor countries," said Eric LeCompte, the Executive Director of Jubilee USA Network. "Because the pandemic is impacting so many developing economies, the United States and other wealthy economies face supply shortages."

The IMF flagship report notes prolonged economic challenges while more than 96% of populations in low-income countries remain unvaccinated.

"The possibility of new COVID variants emerging is the biggest concern for the future of the global economy," added LeCompte. "Vaccines are a priority and proactive policies to deal with the global debt and health crises are essential for a return to sustainable economic growth."

Rising COVID infections and growing economic uncertainty are significant concerns according to a second IMF report released, the Global Financial Stability Report. The report warns of inflation concerns.

"Food prices are rising when too many countries struggle with economies in turmoil," shared LeCompte. "The highest food price increases are in countries where access to food is already a problem."

The IMF's stability report highlighted climate risks.

"One of the greatest threats to economic stability is the shocks that economies face due to climate change."

Read the Jubilee USA Statement on IMF World Economic Outlook Report here.
Read the Jubilee USA Statement on Global Financial Stability Report here.
Read More

Vietnamese Newspaper Kinh te & Do thi Quotes Eric LeCompte on Funding Vaccines for Low-Income Countries

Vietnamese Newspaper Kinh te & Do thi (Economic and Urban) quoted Eric LeCompte in an article discussing the International Monetary Fund-World Bank annual meeting. Read an excerpt below and the full article here.

“Hot” issues at the 2021 annual meeting of the IMF and the World Bank

By Nguyen Phuong

The annual meetings of the World Bank (WB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) will take place from October 11-17 in Washington, USA. In it, officials will discuss the global economy, the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and global minimum corporate tax rate issues.

Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of the Jubilee USA Network, said he is waiting to see if the world's wealthiest countries make commitments to fund more funding for the vaccine support program for low-income countries. especially in Africa.

Mr. LeCompte also expressed concern that if the IMF and World Bank do not push governments to act now, the global roll-out of vaccine support will continue to be delayed, and potentially fall short of its goals. The World Health Organization (WHO) is to vaccinate 70% of the population of each country by mid-2022.

Read more here.

Read More