Bloggers at the IMF are looking at why Latin America fared better in this crisis than during previous episodes of financial duress. Their explanation: financial soundness mixed with enhanced credibility.
This improvement can be attributed to the fact that the region faced the crisis equipped with economic policy frameworks that were more solid and credible than in the past, and with smaller financial, external, and fiscal vulnerabilities. This allowed a number of countries of the region to implement countercyclical monetary and fiscal policies.
The estimates here suggest that these countries were able to “save” about 4 percentage points of GDP during the crisis, thanks to their better preparations for confronting external shocks.
A key element of this preparedness was credibility. Those countries which had responsibly managed their monetary and fiscal policies before the crisis were able to quickly lower interest rates, while increasing public expenditure and fiscal deficits. Countries such as Brazil, Chile and Peru managed to store away enough revenues from the commodity booms of the previous years in order to enact the necessary mix of countercyclical policies. Mexico, which is suffering from dwindling oil reserves, had less of a cushion, and has in turn struggled more than most of its neighbors.
Update: Vox has an interesting paper on the policy responses of Latin America Central Banks during the crisis, written by the former governor of the Central Bank of Ecuador.