South America has been a special part of my life for four decades. I have lived many years in Brasil and Peru. I am married to an incredible lady from Argentina. I want to share South America with you.
Latin America, like the rest of the world only with greater geographical intimacy, is bracing itself for the presidency of Donald Trump.
Mexico has a new Foreign Minister for the task. Luis Videgaray, a man with whom Mr Trump once said he could do “wonderful deals”, has been brought back after he resigned as Finance Minister three months ago following the public relations fiasco of Trump’s visit to Mexico in August. (But is that really a good move? Eurasia, the risk consultancy, suggested it would “only worsen [President Enrique] Pena Nieto’s troubles.”)
Argentina is scrambling to get $10bn of bond issuance out of the way, seizing a moment of calm before the storm that many investors fear could hit emerging markets once Mr Trump is in office. This will likely only be the first of many mega issues as the country has to issue as much as $30bn this year.
Companies are assuming the brace position too. General Motors has been put on notice by Mr Trump for investing in Mexico. Ford has shifted one planned investment. Toyota has also drawn the president elect’s ire for manufacturing south of the border.
It’s not all Trump, though.
Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro has circled the wagons against Venezuela’s festering social, economic and political crises by re-shuffling his cabinet and appointing “friends and family” to top positions.
Shock waves also continue to ricochet around Latin America over the multi-million dollar bribes that Brazilian construction company Odebrecht once showered around when it acted as the quasi-industrial development arm of Brazilian foreign policy.
The flames of the scandal - which the US Justice Department last month called the biggest foreign bribery case in history - have been fanned by recent evidence submitted by plea-bargaining Odebrecht executives in return for judicial leniency in Brazil. JP (“no relation”) Spinetto, a Bloomberg TV producer, has got out the back-of-an-envelope to do the maths on bribes-paid and contracts-won; his salaciously amusing but also informative graphic is below.
Quotes of the week
“Toyota Motor said will build a new plant in Baja, Mexico, to build Corolla cars for U.S. NO WAY! Build plant in U.S. or pay big border tax” - President-elect Donald Trump wrote on Twitter
“Production volume or employment in the US will not decrease as a result of our new plant in Guanajuato, Mexico, announced in April 2015” - Toyota