Monday, July 12, 2010

Will It Be the Latin American Decade?

From the FT:

While Latin Americans have been fixated on the ups and downs of their football teams in South Africa, financial analysts point to a more impressive set of indicators that should capture the world’s attention.

Economic growth in Latin America and the Caribbean is forecast to average 4.5 per cent this year, twice the estimated US rate and four times faster than the eurozone. Fiscal deficits in Latin America are expected to average 2.3 per cent of gross domestic product in 2010, compared with 6.8 per cent in the euro area and 10.6 per cent in the US. The region’s total public debt is roughly only half the level of Europe and the US.

This economic role-reversal is no accident. Although problems such as drug-trafficking and emigration still dominate and distort public perceptions of Latin America, over the past 20 years the region has undergone a quiet but profound transformation.

Brazil is the most visible example: it has emerged as an industrial and agricultural powerhouse while lifting some 30m of its citizens out of poverty, and is on track to grow more than 7 per cent this year. But Brazil’s progress is echoed, to varying degrees, by most of its neighbours.