Emerging Markets  

Does Latin America offer long-term investing prospects?

This article is part of
Guide to investing in Latin America

However, there are positive signs on the horizon that are not related to commodities.

The International Monetary Fund boosted its bailout to Argentina in September, just a few months after MSCI had brought it back into the emerging markets index, potentially welcoming more investors.

Additionally, the big positive for the region is its demographics, which according to Mr Hovasse are “very, very good”. 

“The fertility rate in the region is 2.1, which is just about perfect as it means women’s participation in the labour market is higher, education rates are better – this is coming together to make a demographic transition,” he explains. “Another thing investors like about the region, is that bosses maintain their companies in a way they would have them do so.

"They take on debt to increase their return on equity – in China, 60 per cent of all company capital is held in cash.” 

Green shoots

International technology companies are beginning to look to the area, too, with Asian giants recently investing hundreds of millions of dollars into local start-ups. 

But for Ms Gupta, the tech sector – along with the region’s commodities giants – are a touch too volatile for most investors. 

“A positive for the region is that due to the very low valuations, its risk/return profile offers better value than others, especially with green shoots on the political horizon,” she says. “It is tough to lose out when starting from this low a base.”

In the long term, there is opportunity in the region, according to Mr Hovasse, but investors should avoid looking at the economic cycle as a guide as political movements and external factors can influence it. 

“Emerging market investors are opportunistic so when momentum does start to pick up, it might be tricky to get in,” notes Ms Gupta. 

Elizabeth Pfeuti is a freelance journalist