Latin America offers refuge from crisis: analysts

Monday, November 21, 2011
By Anna Cuenca, AFP

MADRID -- With their lower unemployment, increasing consumption and higher growth rates, Latin American nations are attracting investors looking for a refuge from the global financial turmoil, analysts say.

At the same time, they cautioned at a three-day conference that wrapped up Friday in Madrid, the region is not an “immune oasis” from the troubles affecting the world economy.

“Latin America has a promising future, although growth is not as fast as it has been in recent years,” said Alice Gutierrez, an analyst at Colombian investment group Inversiones Suramericana at the Foro Latibex.

The region is “undeniably attractive for those looking to diversify their geographic risk from the United states and Europe,” she said at the event, which gathered representatives from 50 major Spanish and Latin American firms.

The International Monetary Fund predicts Latin America will grow 4 percent next year compared to just 1.8 percent in the United States and 1.1 percent for the struggling eurozone.

Among the region's strong points is “the health of its public accounts and a financial sector that is well capitalized and has a clean balance sheet,” said Alejandro Varela, a fund manager at Spanish brokerage Renta4.

“The health of the financial system is key since the (European) sovereign debt crisis is having a special impact on the financial system at the global level,” he added.

Another factor giving Latin America a boost is a drop in unemployment across the region, said Luiz Carlos Angelotti, executive director at Brazil's second-largest private bank, Bradesco.

“This creation of jobs stimulates internal demand, which is the real motor to maintain growth in our country despite the negative effects of what is going on in the global economy,” he said.

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