The financial contagion flowing from Greece into the rest of the euro zone has a familiar ring in Latin America and the Caribbean. Mexico’s Tequila Crisis and Argentina’s foreign debt default have receded, but not disappeared, from memory.
After having previously fallen victim to many of the same problems, Latin American banks, regulators, governments and markets cleaned up their act. Many in the region are mere bystanders in this particular crisis, although financial markets in Latin America and the Caribbean immediately reflected the impact.
Countries had already applied the lessons learned about too much debt, inflation, poorly regulated financial institutions and opaque government finances.
Latin Trade’s banking report in this issue reveals how those experiences have been borne out in results of the leading financial institutions. Banks in Latin America have turned in strong performances, in some cases outshining the most robust economies in the region.
Brazilian banks continue on their path of acquisitions and consolidation. Many of the large international banks – Santander, BBVA, Citi, HSBC and Scotiabank – have seen earnings from the region boost the bottom line of the parent institution. Local banks have also done well in a time of crisis.
While banking regulators and supervisors are credited by many with having helped create stronger financial institutions, compared to years past, banks still face big challenges. And in many countries, lending to the private sector lags behind what the economies need for solid expansion.
Financing is key to growth and job creation. And so is entrepreneurship, as we explore in our “10 Under 10” report, with profiles of 10 young companies, one of which completes its first decade later this year, while the others have less experience under their belts. We turned to our correspondents, as well as Endeavor, an organization that promotes entrepreneurship, and other sources to find the companies for our special report. Our selection of growing ventures from around the region, in distinct industries, shows how ideas can take root and flourish, despite the many challenges.
Deadly earthquakes rocked Haiti and Chile at the start of the year. Many large and small companies immediately sprang to action to help with the rescue, the relief and the rebuilding, highlighting how such efforts are part of being a good corporate citizen. As part of our broader look at corporate social responsibility programs, we find that environmental and sustainable initiatives are increasingly part of the CSR equation.
Filed Under: Letters from the Editor
About the Author: Jane Bussey is editorial director of the Latin Trade Group and the BRAVO Business Awards.