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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Infrastructure on Rousseff’s Agenda

by Guest Blogger for Shannon K. O'Neil
Brazil, Infrastructure, Dilma Rousseff, Programa de Investimentos em Logística (PIL), 2016 Olympics, BNDES An aerial view of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games athletes village, which is under construction in Rio de Janeiro February 26, 2015. Rio de Janeiro must keep up the pace of delivery if it is to complete venues before scheduled Olympic test events as it enters "the most intense period of preparations," the IOC said on Wednesday (Ricardo Moraes/Reuters).

This is a guest post by Emilie Sweigart, an intern here at the Council on Foreign Relations who works with me in the Latin America Studies program.

Even as Brazil pushes forward austerity measures and entitlement reductions, the administration of President Dilma Rousseff is hoping to increase infrastructure investment. The recently announced Programa de Investimentos em Logística (PIL) would launch nearly R$200 billion (USD$64 billion) in concessions for rail (R$86.4 billion), roads (R$66.1 billion), ports (R$37.4 billion), and airports (R$8.5 billion). Roughly a third would be completed by 2018, when Rousseff will leave office. Read more »

Foreign Direct Investment in Latin America

by Shannon K. O'Neil
Foreign Direct Investment, Latin America A Venezuelan worker assembles a motorcycle made of Chinese parts at the Empire Keeway factory in Charallave, outside Caracas December 14, 2011. Every time that Beijing turns the gear of their loans to Caracas, thousands of barrels of oil are shipped to Asia, get tons of goods to South America and create dozens of companies as part of an oiled mechanism that gives millions of dollars to the Government of Hugo Chavez and great benefits to the Eastern giant (Jorge Silva/Reuters).

Foreign direct investment (FDI) in Latin America fell in 2014, down 16 percent to $159 billion according to the latest ECLAC report. This outpaced global declines closer to 7 percent, and fell far behind other emerging markets, which saw investments rise 5 percent on average, and 15 percent in Asia. Read more »

China’s RMB Swap Lines with Latin America

by Shannon K. O'Neil
China, Argentina, swap lines Argentinian President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner (L) and Chinese President Xi Jinping shake hands and face the media after signing documents during a ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing February 4, 2015 (Rolex Dela Pena/Reuters).

My colleagues Benn Steil and Dinah Walker recently published a great interactive on the spread of central bank currency swaps since the financial crisis. They find the United States provided developing nations with significant support through swap lines at the height of the financial crisis, but that China has been the most active extender of swap lines since 2009. China now has thirty-one swap agreements outstanding. Read more »

Guest Post: Latin America, Energy Matrices, and the Future of Climate Change

by Guest Blogger for Shannon K. O'Neil
Latin America, Energy Matrices, Climate Change A Petrobras Oil platform is seen at Guabanara bay in Rio de Janeiro September 24, 2010. Brazilian state oil company Petrobras raised $70 billion on Thursday in the world's biggest share offering, giving the company the financial muscle it needs to tap vast offshore oil reserves (Bruno Domingos/Courtesy Reuters).

This is a guest post by Matthew Michaelides, an intern here at the Council on Foreign Relations who works with me in the Latin America program.

This week world leaders meet in Lima, Peru to discuss the framework for a new UN climate change agreement. The big issues for discussion include financing clean energy projects and implementing cap-and-trade policies, building on the release of a new report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and a landmark climate change accord between the United States and China. Read more »

Looking Back at 2012: Latin America’s Economic Development

by Shannon K. O'Neil
Brazilian worker assembles a Volkswagen car at Sao Bernardo do Campo Volkswagen plant, near Sao Paulo (Nacho Doce/Courtesy Reuters). Brazilian worker assembles a Volkswagen car at Sao Bernardo do Campo Volkswagen plant, near Sao Paulo (Nacho Doce/Courtesy Reuters).

Looking back at the past year, many of the posts on Latin America’s Moment touch on the region’s economic development, and its trade and investment ties with the rest of the world. Here is a recap of some of the main themes.

Overall, 2012 was a year of economic optimism for most Latin American economies. The IMF’s Latin America Economic Outlook report, which I write about here, was quite bullish. And ECLAC announced that Latin America hit an all-time $150 billion high in foreign direct investment, led by Brazil. Also crucial in the region’s economic development were the growing number of women in the workforce. Read more »

China’s Economic Role in Latin America

by Shannon K. O'Neil
Worker walks past by containers from China Shipping company at Brazil's main ocean port of Santos city Worker walks past by containers from China Shipping company at Brazil's main ocean port of Santos city (Nacho Doce/Courtesy Reuters).

There is much talk of China’s escalating economic influence in Latin America. But it’s worth looking at what has (and hasn’t) actually happened in the three main ways that China interacts with the region’s economies: trade, foreign direct investment (FDI), and loans (from state-owned banks). 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 »

Brazil’s Stability is Success

by Shannon K. O'Neil
To match feature BRAZIL-ECONOMY/MIDDLECLASS (Bruno Domingos/Courtesy Reuters). To match feature BRAZIL-ECONOMY/MIDDLECLASS (Bruno Domingos/Courtesy Reuters).

In the most recent July/August issue of Foreign Affairs, many people including Richard Lapper, Larry Rohter, Ronaldo Lemos, and myself respond to Ruchir Sharma’s May/June article “Bearish on Brazil,” which predicted that Brazil’s rise would end as soon as global commodity prices leveled out. In my piece, “Stability is Success,” I argue that while it is true that challenges remain for Brazil, its recent reforms and social programs have helped develop the economy and middle class in such a way that the country will no longer rise and fall solely on the basis of external market fluctuations. 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 »

China’s Chen Guangcheng

by Shannon K. O'Neil
Blind activist Chen Guangcheng smiles at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York (Eric Thayer/Courtesy Reuters). Blind activist Chen Guangcheng smiles at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York (Eric Thayer/Courtesy Reuters).

I had the good fortune this morning to see Chen Guangcheng speak here at the Council on Foreign Relations (and you can watch it here too). Over the course of the hour he answered questions ranging from the nature of his escape from his village of Dongshigu to legal rights in China to what the United States—either through government officials or private business interests—can and should do to help those like him. Through all his (on the record) answers emerged a presence, sense of humor, and thoughtfulness impressive for anyone, and in particular someone that has faced the challenges he has in recent years. Read more »