Macroeconomic challenges of fiscal decentralization in Latin America in the aftermath of the global financial crisis
Teresa Ter-Minassian Juan Pablo Jiménez
In Latin America (LA), as well as in other parts of the world, decentralization has increased in recent decades, reflecting primarily political pressures, partly linked to the democratization process. As a result, sub-national governments (SNGs) now account for substantial shares of public expenditures, in particular social and investment ones. This in turn has created growing challenges for macro-fiscal management, as concerns both ensuring medium-to long-term fiscal sustainability, and minimizing the impact of cyclical and commodity prices fluctuations on sub-national budgets. This is illustrated by the effects of the recent global financial crisis on sub-national finances in the region. This paper discusses how fiscal decentralization is affecting macro-economic management in the main LA countries; and which reforms in the existing intergovernmental fiscal systems of those countries could help strengthen their fiscal sustainability, minimize the risk of pro-cyclicality at all levels of government, and create “fiscal space” for active countercyclical responses to economic shocks.