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Wealth, Financial Intermediation, and Saving in Latin America and the Caribbean

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November, 2015
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After constructing a broad and novel database of 52 countries over 2001–11, this study assesses the link between financial intermediation and saving. The study finds that the Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) region lags well behind other regions in terms of financial depth, as measured by gross private domestic financial assets. LAC countries also have a larger share of bank deposits and cash in the private sector portfolio, compared to non-bank assets (bonds and shares). Moreover, within the institutional investor industry, pension funds are relatively developed in the region, although they grew out of the compulsory pension systems in several countries that date back to the 1980s and 1990s. The findings also indicate that LAC countries have about 40 percent of gross private financial wealth invested abroad, but just 4 percent of gross private liabilities have that origin, which attests to region’s obstacles in tapping international markets. The countries in general present a small share of household and business saving being intermediated through the financial system. In the specific case of bank deposits, just 5 percent of household saving and 3 percent of business saving are kept in the banking system.

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