When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

AMERICA ECONOMIA
America Economi­a is Latin America's leading business magazine, founded in 1986 by Elias Selman and Nils Strandberg. Headquartered in Santiago, Chile, it features a region-wide monthly edition and regularly updated articles online, as well as country-specific editions in Chile, Brazil, Ecuador and Mexico.
A jar of weed
Economy
Natalia Vera Ramírez

Crypto And Cannabis, Best Buds At Last

As cannabis is legalized in more places, investors are taking note. One Luxembourg-based, Uruguayan-led fund has found an innovative way to bypass banking obstacles and raise capital.

Soon it will be possible to buy shares in a fund that invests in the nascent cannabis industry, on Ethereum, a blockchain portal. The fund is Global Cannabis Capital (GCC), formed in Luxembourg and soon to offer shares as tokens (digital value units representing the value of a stock), instead of the traditional initial public offering (IPO).

GCC's founder is the Uruguayan Andrés Israel, also CEO and founder of Cannabis Company Builder (CCB), an incubator that helps Latin American startups devise a business strategy for the cannabis sector. He said tokens were "a much more efficient channel for attracting capital" than share issues, and legal frameworks already exist covering their use. The legalities, he said, were "one of our major challenges. We chose Luxembourg as we found legality both in the blockchain sphere and the cannabis industry. It was a double challenge for us."

Watch Video Show less
We Can't Choose Our Refugees Or Enemies — What Racists Don't Understand About War
Ideas
Farid Kahhat

We Can't Choose Our Refugees Or Enemies — What Racists Don't Understand About War

The European far-right's sympathies for "white and Christian" Ukrainians shows its devotion to the idea of the "clash of civilizations." But it fails to see the basic paradoxes of war, where you may be fighting those who most resemble you and be forced to welcome those who look different.

-OpEd-

In a recent tweet, Hermann Tertsch, a far-right member of European Parliament, clarified what his ilk understood refugees to be. The member of Spain's populist Vox party wrote that "in Ukraine, they are real refugees. Christian, white refugees."

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

Sign up to our free daily newsletter.

He was supposedly listing criteria relevant only to the state of Ukrainians, while ignoring the fact that the Russian soldiers who have brutally turned them into refugees are just as white and Christian.

Watch Video Show less
A person walks under the rain with an umbrella.
Geopolitics
Farid Kahhat

The Ukraine-Taiwan Analogy: Real Fears And False Correlations

The United States has no treaty obligation to send troops to protect Taiwan against China, but it has a "fairly clear" commitment to aid its defense, unlike in Ukraine. The economic stakes are also a source for worry.

-Analysis-

Days after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the flight of Chinese jets near Taiwan provoked jitters around the world. The worries were unnecessary as Taiwan's air defense identification zone, where the jets had flown, is effectively bigger than its airspace.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

Sign up to our free daily newsletter.

Also, the incursions were not unusual, having occurred 900 times since the air zone was created. Any comparison between the cases of Taiwan and Ukraine overlooks the fact that — beyond the current context — Taiwan is actually more important to the United States than Ukraine.

Watch Video Show less
Photo of leading leftist and former Marxist guerrilla, Gustavo Petro talking to a crowd on Feb. 7
Geopolitics
Alidad Vassigh

Is Russia Trying To Meddle In Colombia's Presidential Campaign?

Colombian officials and conservative opponents of the socialist presidential candidate fear he may win in late May's polls with help from Russia and Venezuela. The Left and the Russian embassy have called the charges "fake news" and nonsense.

Conservative leaders in Colombia have been raising the specter of Russian meddling in the presidential elections, scheduled for May 29. The allegation reveals fears in this polarized country that the leading leftist and former Marxist guerrilla, Gustavo Petro, could become Colombia's next president.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

Sign up to our free daily newsletter.

The charges most recently emerged in reports in the Bogota daily El Tiempo and the broadcaster RCN on Russian elements entering the country to stir up unrest.

Watch Video Show less
For Latin American Cities, Flying Cars Are Suddenly Within Reach
Future
Gianni Amador

For Latin American Cities, Flying Cars Are Suddenly Within Reach

It may sound like science-fiction, but firms are already developing prototypes for this cheaper alternative to the helicopter. And for Latin America in particular, the sky's the limit for what Flying cars can bring.

SANTIAGO — Imagine taking a taxi — a flying taxi — to work. It sounds like the stuff of science-fiction like The Jetsons, the 1962 cartoon series set in 2062, but it may become reality sooner than we or filmmakers imagined.

Watch Video Show less
Competition between countries to acquire and sell cutting-edge technologies could become an intractable part of the economic rivalry pitting China against the United States.
Economy
Farid Kahhat

In Brazil, A New Gambit In 5G Battle Between U.S. And China

A recent tender for Brazil's 5G network once again highlighted the growing rivalry between the two superpowers. Now, the Biden administration may even have a formula to free countries of their debt to Beijing.

-Analysis-

LIMA — Competition between countries to acquire and sell cutting-edge technologies could become an intractable feature of the economic rivalry pitting China against the United States. One crucial part of that conflict would be over the fifth generation of communication technologies — known as 5G, which allows information transfers 10 times faster than the current 4G.

We already have examples of how the Superpower rivalry could unfold in Latin America. The most notable case recently (for the size of the market concerned) was the tender put out for Brazil's 5G network. The process had to be postponed due to disagreements between the U.S. and Brazilian governments around a possible role here of the Chinese firm Huawei.

Watch Video Show less
The Pandemic Changed How Latin Americans Work — And Where
Economy
Laura Villahermosa

The Pandemic Changed How Latin Americans Work — And Where

Once dismissed as being for millennials and hard-up freelancers, coworking firms now occupy Latin America's prestigious corporate towers that have more and more spaces to fill.

LIMA — When workers left their offices in March 2020, with a global pandemic in full swing, nobody knew when they would be back. As firms and workers began warming to working from home weeks into lockdowns and confinement regimes, the real estate sector trembled at the prospect of a massive downturn in demand for office space.

In Latin America, use of corporate office space had already been changing before the pandemic, with the demand for shared offices taking off in 2015-2018. The U.S.-based firm WeWork was one of the beneficiaries. "We had 70% occupation levels before the pandemic," says Claudio Hidalgo, head of WeWork in Latin America.

Watch Video Show less
​Chinese walk past the People's Bank of China, the country's central bank, in Beijing
Economy
Manuel Romera Robles

China's Loose Credit Gambit

While other major economies are taking steps to tighten credit, China is acting to cheapen it, in order to revive its economic activity and help big firms repay their debts. But will it fuel global inflation, or worse, stagflation?

-Analysis-

It has recently become clear that Chinese economic growth is losing steam after a third consecutive negative quarter and a fragile 4.9% annual growth rate. This is starkly below China's average historical long-term growth rates and has depressed its stock market values. But China is not a country easily deterred by challenges and has decided to apply the principle that big problems need big solutions.

We are now seeing the world's economic blocks take drastically different approaches. The United States and Europe are envisaging restricting credit flows in the economy by raising interest rates, while China has chosen the opposite: pulling out all the stops to inject cash and increase liquidity.

Watch Video Show less
Are Rich Latin Americans Creating A Miami Real Estate Bubble?
Economy
Gwendolyn Ledger

Are Rich Latin Americans Creating A Miami Real Estate Bubble?

Wealthy Latin Americans have been among the most active home buyers in Miami, which now may be creating a "tough" sellers' market perceived by some as simply a haven for assets threatened by instability in home countries.

-Analysis-

MIAMI — If New York is the city that never sleeps, Miami may well be the city that never stops growing. Florida's bilingual paradise with dreamy beaches is expanding both upwards and sideways, and has received almost 1,000 new residents a day since 2020, according to figures from local realtors ISG Realty and ISG World.

The attraction has spread to surrounding districts and counties, both for Florida's climate and beaches and for the security and stability the United States assures. Geraldo, a financier from Peru, has been living in Weston, in Broward County north-east of Miami, for almost a year. He decided to buy a house with a garden there for the area's reputable schools, infrastructure and "impressive security." These and other factors like Florida's lower personal taxes have all fueled demand for homes in several districts of southern Florida and also in Orlando, Jacksonville and Tampa.

Watch Video Show less
Photo of Mexico's President López Obrador
Geopolitics
Luis Rubio

Mexico: AMLO's Myth-Making Hits Its Limits

Oblivious to his lackluster performance in government, Mexico's President López Obrador is revving up efforts to make himself a transcendental figure of Mexican history, like other unsung predecessors.

-OpEd-

MEXICO CITY — His discourse, body language and tone are increasingly intolerant and suggest rising desperation. Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (aka AMLO) has become so verbally radical this year that he has indiscriminately attacked educational institutions, journalists and individuals who, paradoxically, had been among those who defended and promoted him — or at least his causes. The change in his demeanor compared to when he took office is patent and, nevertheless, none of this has altered the devotion of his electoral support base.

Pollsters are keen to understand the AMLO phenomenon of enduring approval despite such pathetic results on the ground and especially the gap between approval rates for the president and his government. As pollster Francisco Abundis observes in his column for Milenio newspaper, public perceptions of the general state of the economy are not determining when it comes to approval of the president. People "pay attention to other indicators, like social programs." This, adds Abundis, was broadly similar to how opinion treated one former conservative president, Vicente Fox. "When sympathizers of the leader are questioned about the administration's mistakes, the response is often to blame his team or those around him, but never the president," he writes.

Building a personality cult

In the "report" of his first three years in power on December 1, the president revealed what might be a new strategy for the rest of his six-year term: If the key factor for his supporters (and ratings) is not tangible results measured by traditional indicators (like growth, jobs and security), then he must resort to personal promotion, which was precisely the point of his massive meeting in the Zócalo, Mexico City's historic main square, on December 1. In other words, the presidential logic seems to be shifting shifting towards the consecration of his personality rather than of his socialist project.

In history, the leaders who aspired to a mythical status outnumber those who attained it

The crowd that attended the mass meeting, and the president's ratings, suggest this may be the right bet. Traditional measurements appear not to be applicable to this president, because he has managed to be identified as the promoter of certain causes and viewed as the incarnation of accumulated resentments that go beyond satisfaction with the usual material or tangible paybacks. AMLO's voters do not want results from him, for their devotion is somewhat religious, based more on faith than reasoning. In a word, there is a different phenomenon at work, which needs to be categorized in its own terms.

At the meeting in the Zócalo, Mexico City's historic main square, on December 1

Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador Facebook Page

Transformational leaders vs. transformational projects

In history, the leaders who aspired to a mythical status outnumber those who attained it. Some became mythical for the wrong reasons (in John F. Kennedy's case for example, for being killed), and others for transforming their societies, for better or worse. Mao, Stalin and Nelson Mandela are legendary, but not in the same ways. The excessive power our system gives our presidents make them think they can become transformational leaders, able to solve the country's problems even without a suitable project. And they want to do it within a six-year term. Many tried it and almost all have ended up in history's trash bin, or somewhere worse.

Two decades ago, the journalist Thomas Frank wrote in his book What's the Matter with Kansas? that people vote against their own interests. They place values above interests and connect with leaders who promote immaterial causes that are not of immediate concern to them. He cited specifically the voters in the U.S. state of Kansas, who prefer candidates opposing abortion or favoring guns, to others concerned with the usual items like growth, jobs and education.

The consecration of a mythical leader?

So not all electoral preferences can be strictly gauged or understood with standard, analytical tools. Effective leaders use myths to their advantage, and often manage to draw voters to seemingly irrational projects. Fidel Castro became mythical, yet he impoverished and restricted Cuba for a good half century. Xi Jinping runs an extremely successful country but also seeks ideological sustenance from Mao, the greatest of oppressors.

But in Mexico, unlike many other countries, this isn't the moment for AMLO's consecration as a mythical leader. People can access information and make comparisons, which reveal the discrepancies between grandiloquent claims and dismal results. Still, expect three years of unrelenting self-promotion, which may yet create the myth. But, as Abundis observes of the conservative Fox, his inability to deliver on people's vast expectations of him (for presiding over the end of 70-years of one-party rule in 2000) sharply cut his heroic figure to size. And he gradually became the opposite of a myth: a piece of fiction, a matter for reflection or just a failure.

People pass in front of a mural that reads ''live your dreams'' in a polling place during the second round of the presidential elections in Santiago, Chile.
Geopolitics
América Economía

Chile's Elections Bring Youthful Promises — And Uncertainty

Will Chile's president-elect Gabriel Boric and his team lead the country toward a European-style social-democracy in partnership with business, or will the country turn sharply left if traditional economic powers resist their reforms?

SANTIAGO DE CHILE – What just ended, and what is beginning in Chile, with the overwhelming victory of the leftist presidential candidate, Gabriel Boric?

The 35-year-old of the Broad Front (Frente amplio) won the Dec. 19 general elections with 55.9% of all votes cast, against 44.1% for the very conservative José Antonio Kast. This removes all doubts on the desire for fundamental changes among the majority of Chileans, especially when the results come in the wake of violent protests in October 2019 against growing inequality, privatization, and increasing corruption. The outcome is also voters' clear endorsement of the October 2020 plebiscite on the adoption of a new constitution, which was in response to the 2019 demonstrations.

Watch Video Show less
Photo of hands carrying a crystal ball in front of an escalator
Work In Progress
Rozena Crossman

Work → In Progress: The Working World In 2022

Will the Great Resignation of the past year lead to a Great Reskilling the next...?

Like the year before, 2021 was filled with Zoom meetings, travel bans, shaky economics and supply chain disruptions. At the same time, it was a singular year, defined by strikes, international labor shortages and vaccine mandates in many workplaces. As Q4 comes to an end, things are ramping up, and the work challenges of 2022 are becoming very clear.

All over the world, unemployment is high — and so is the lack of available labor. What will see a bigger increase, inflation or salary bumps? Will the Great Resignation lead to a Great Reskilling? What we do know is that white-collar workers are shifting from overtime to flexible schedules, from cogs in the wheel to drivers in the front seat, from struggling independent contractors to employees with full benefits.

Watch Video Show less