News Column

Slowdown in Latin America: Cohen Column

Oct. 23, 2012

Isaac Cohen --

This time, the economies of Latin America and the Caribbean will not avoid the impact of the slowdown in the advanced economies.

Recently, the International Monetary Fund presented in Tokyo a downward revision of this year's projection of economic growth in Latin America and the Caribbean, from 3.8 percent to 3.2 percent. Also, on Oct. 2, the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean presented the same downward revision of its June projection of economic growth in the region for 2012, from 3.7 percent to 3.2 percent.

The main explanatory factor has to do with the slowdown in the advanced economies, such as the recession in Europe, the slow recovery in the U.S., and almost no growth in Japan. Additionally, the slowdown in China has contributed to decrease the demand for commodity exports, which previously compensated for the slowdown in the advanced economies.

The Latin American slowdown has been more pronounced in Brazil, with economic growth decreasing from more than 7 percent in 2010, to less than 3 percent in 2011 and projected to be less than 2 percent in 2012. The relative weight in regional averages of the Brazilian economy, representing more than 40 percent of the South American overall product, was one of the main factors pushing down the regional figure.

Also, despite increases in the prices of corn and soy caused by the drought in the U.S. Midwest, economic growth in Argentina is also projected to decrease steeply, from almost 9 percent in 2011 to 2 percent in 2012.

Isaac Cohen is an international analyst and consultant, a commentator on economic and financial issues for CNN en Espaņol TV and radio, and a former director, UNECLAC Washington Office.

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