Business Books

Why has Latin America's economic growth lagged that of Asia? Three new books provide an urgent critique of the region's failures. Can this still be "the century of the Americas"?

Illustration by Terry Allen for TIME

When authors ponder globalization in books like Thomas Friedman's The World Is Flat, they usually pay scant attention to Latin America beyond the North American Free Trade Agreement. Who can blame them? Compared with the record growth of and foreign investment pouring into the emerging markets of Asia and Eastern Europe, Latin America still looks globally noncompetitive.

But ignoring the world from the Rio Grande to Tierra del Fuego is ridiculous. The U.S. exports $225 billion worth of goods each year to Latin America--more than quadruple what it sells to China. The old journalists' joke that Americans will do anything for...

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