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BPEA Article

External Debt and Macroeconomic Performance in Latin America and East Asia

Abstract

SINCE THE ONSET of the international debt crisis in the early 1980s, the dismal economic performance of the Latin American debtor countries has been frequently contrasted with the strong performance of their East Asian counterparts. Table 1 documents the remarkable difference. Throughout East Asia, with the exception of the Philippines, the developing countries have maintained strong growth rates and low inflation. None but the Philippines has been forced to reschedule its foreign debt. On the other hand, throughout Latin America, with the partial exception of Colombia, national incomes have grown slowly or have declined, inflation has surged, and debtors have been forced to reschedule their outstanding debts.

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