Latin America rarely looms large on the global scene, overshadowed by Europe, the Middle East, and Asia on the agendas and in the imagination of policymakers, business leaders, and the global chattering classes. But under cover of this benign neglect, the region has dramatically changed, mostly for the better.
Its economies have flourished. Once known for hyperinflation and economic booms and busts, Latin America is now a place of sound finances and financial systems. Exports—ranging from soy, flowers, copper, and iron ore to computers, appliances, and jets—have boomed. GDP growth has doubled from 1980s levels to an annual average of 4 percent over the past two decades, as has the region's share of global GDP, increasing from 5 percent in 2004 to nearly 8 percent in 2011.
Many of the countries have embraced globalization, opening up their economies and searching for innovative ways to climb the value-added chain and diversify their production.