Look West not East: South America will be the 21st Century's Superpower

Intelligence Squared | March 22, 2011

Conventional wisdom tells us that a new star will rise in the East, and over the past decade all eyes have been looking towards China or India to witness the emergence of the 21st century’s new superpower. But if the three key elements for a strong and powerful economy are democracy, economic growth and low inflation then neither of those would-be giants makes the grade. Inflation in India is at a 13-year high; as for democracy in China… well there isn’t any. Remarkable as has been their recent economic growth the institutional frailty of both nations raises questions about long-term sustainability. But quietly and less flashily the economies of South America have also been transforming themselves, only in their case unburdened by the dead weight of caste politics or communism. And it’s not just the growing might of Brazil that catches the eye: a new vitality is evident across the continent – in Peru, for example, whose 9.8 percent growth rate last year was one of the world’s fastest. So perhaps we should all do an about-turn. Look West, young man!