Shannon K. O'Neil

Latin America's Moment

O'Neil analyzes developments in Latin America and U.S. relations in the region.

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Showing posts for "Chile"

What to Watch in 2013: Latin America’s Presidential Elections

by Shannon K. O'Neil
Nicaraguan police carry ballot boxes, which will be used for the upcoming presidential election, in Managua Nicaraguan police carry ballot boxes, which will be used for the upcoming presidential election, in Managua (Oswaldo Rivas/Courtesy Reuters).

Last year Mexico, Venezuela, and the Dominican Republic held presidential elections, leading to some of the region’s biggest news stories of the year: the PRI’s return to power and the strong second place showing from Venezuela’s opposition. With four scheduled presidential elections (and a possible fifth) in 2013, along with congressional and municipal elections in Argentina and Venezuela respectively, here is what you should be watching. Read more »

Evolution of Latin America’s Economies

by Shannon K. O'Neil

I’ve been looking recently at the structural changes in many of Latin America’s economies (through the evolution of their exports). The different trajectories are quite striking, as you can see in the graphs below.

Out of Latin America’s biggest economies, Mexico has transformed the most. In the 1980s the manufacturing sector comprised just 10 percent of total exports; today it is over 75 percent. Mexico’s economic diversification and dynamism, especially in the automotive and electronic industries, have held oil at a steady 10-15 percent of exports for the last twenty years, even as oil prices have risen (though, in fairness, production has also declined). Read more »

Latin America Becomes More Competitive

by Shannon K. O'Neil
Brazilian children Alexandre da Costa (L) and Augusto Ribeiro use a computer at Mare slum in Rio de Janeiro (Sergio Moraes/Courtesy Reuters). Brazilian children Alexandre da Costa (L) and Augusto Ribeiro use a computer at Mare slum in Rio de Janeiro (Sergio Moraes/Courtesy Reuters).

The Global Competitiveness Index for 2012-2013 came out this month, ranking 144 countries from around the world on twelve “pillars of competitiveness” (ranging from “basic requirements” such as institutions and infrastructure to more advanced categories such as innovation and business sophistication). In its rankings, Latin America’s countries fell pretty much right in the list’s center, with three countries (Chile, Panama, and Brazil) ranking in the top third, six countries falling in the bottom third (El Salvador, Bolivia, the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Paraguay, and Venezuela), and the rest spread throughout the middle. Read more »

The Democratic Platform on Latin America

by Shannon K. O'Neil
A convention-goer stands on the convention floor on the first day of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte A convention-goer stands on the convention floor on the first day of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte (Jonathan Ernst/Courtesy Reuters).

This week it is the Democrats who are putting forth their platform, which can be found in its entirety here. Like its Republican counterpart, the platform is heavily focused on domestic issues (most significantly on the middle class and job creation), leaving little ink for the United States’ relationship with Latin America. When the Democratic platform does address its southern neighbors, the emphasis is two pronged: security and economics. Read more »

Latin America: Community Building Across Borders

by Shannon K. O'Neil
Shadows on a slum wall are cast by Nicaraguan immigrants to Costa Rica during a prayer session in the neighborhood of Triangulo de la Solidaridad Shadows on a slum wall are cast by Nicaraguan immigrants to Costa Rica during a prayer session in the neighborhood of Triangulo de la Solidaridad (Juan Carlos Ulate/Courtesy Reuters).

Alongside the tentative formal efforts at economic and political integration, people are also increasingly bringing the region together. A recent uptick in intra-regional movement—through travel, study, and immigration—has allowed Latin Americans to get to know each other better, and in the process bind together both their communities and their economies. Read more »

Latin America: Trading and Investing Together

by Shannon K. O'Neil
Container trucks stand in line as they are stopped on border between El Salvador and Honduras Container trucks stand in line as they are stopped on border between El Salvador and Honduras (Eliana Aponte/Courtesy Reuters).

Economic ties lead Latin America’s integration efforts. Promising some of the greatest concrete benefits—larger markets, improved livelihoods, and enhanced global economic power—leaders and communities alike have tried to integrate the region through three main means: trade, infrastructure, and investment. Read more »

Latin American Integration: Two Hundred Years of Efforts

by Shannon K. O'Neil
A man walks past a banner reading 'Capital of integration' in Caracas A man walks past a banner reading 'Capital of integration' in Caracas (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters).

Latin American integration efforts have been a continuous fixture throughout much of the last century, but in recent years there has been a flurry of new initiatives, with leaders re-emphasizing regional ties. The increasing number of high-profile presidential and ministerial summits have brought renewed promises and commitments to deepen regional political, economic, social, and developmental cooperation, and have spurred the creation of new political and economic bodies tasked with uniting the region. Read more »

Foreign Direct Investment in Latin America Hit Record Highs in 2011

by Shannon K. O'Neil
Employees work at the assembly line of Positivo Computers, Brazil's largest computer producer, in Curitiba (Cesar Ferrari/Courtesy Reuters). Employees work at the assembly line of Positivo Computers, Brazil's largest computer producer, in Curitiba (Cesar Ferrari/Courtesy Reuters).

Last year foreign direct investment (FDI) in Latin America continued its surge, topping $150 billion, an all time high for the region. According to the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean’s report “Foreign Direct Investment in Latin America and the Caribbean,” the inflows climbed 31 percent—the most of any region and three times Asia’s growth rate—and now represent just over 10 percent of total global investment (breaking into the double digits for the first time as well). Read more »

Conditional Cash Transfer Programs: Worth the Price?

by Shannon K. O'Neil
Children sit in their classroom on their first day of school for six months in Oaxaca (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters). Children sit in their classroom on their first day of school for six months in Oaxaca (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters).

In the economic development world, one of Latin America’s claims to fame are its conditional cash transfer programs (CCTs), which provide direct money transfers to low-income families who send their children to school and/or get basic health care. A few of these programs, such as Bolsa Família in Brazil and Oportunidades in Mexico, reach millions of families (some 20 percent of the two countries’ households). Others are smaller and more targeted toward the extreme poor, such as Chile Solidario in Chile, Familias en Acción in Colombia, and Bono de Desarrollo Humano in Ecuador. Most now boast at least a decade in place, providing a track record to test their reach and effectiveness. Read more »

Despite Hurdles, Latin Americans “Satisfied” According to OECD

by Shannon K. O'Neil
A view of new homes in La Comarca Lagunera (Daniel Aguilar/Courtesy Reuters). A view of new homes in La Comarca Lagunera (Daniel Aguilar/Courtesy Reuters).

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) released a report this month on the overall well-being of its thirty four member countries (as well as Brazil and Russia). Looking specifically at the three Latin American countries in the studyMexico, Brazil, and Chile—some of the results aren’t surprising. The three countries all come in the bottom four positions (joined by Turkey) in categories such as safety, education, and income, far outpaced by the more mature economies within the organization. Read more »