After a three-year (2020-2022) rollercoaster ride, politically, socially, and economically, Latin America found its footing in 2023. The region stopped electing angry leftists who promised to overhaul the state, the economy outgrew expectations and the region’s leading currencies gained against the greenback. After recent years of tumult, a comparatively dull 2023 in Latin America counts as a victory.
2020 brought us the pandemic, a health crisis that Latin America was very ill-prepared for, possibly worse-positioned than any region in the world. With its densely populated cities, poor ICU infrastructure and multi-generational households, bending the curve of infection rates required lengthy quarantines. But two years of on and off lockdowns—and even longer school closures—created an economic, fiscal, and social crisis. Latin America's informal labor force (60% of the total) was rendered penniless, exacerbating the region’s debilitating class divide. The region’s IVA-dependent tax code proved dysfunctional as the services sector collapsed and every major economy took a fiscal hit.
In 2021, as vaccinations came online and investigative journalists began to uncover the immense malfeasance of many governments in the region that stole vast sums and jumped vaccine cues, voters grew increasingly disgruntled. In 2021 and 2022, they took their revenge, electing disruptive, untested political leaders who promised to punish the tone-deaf elite and the establishment. Their anger brought to power Boric in Chile, Petro in Colombia, and Castillo in Peru, among others. By the end of 2022, Latin America's seven largest economies were all run by decidedly left-wing leaders. Investors frowned upon the region, predicting a catastrophic 2023.
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