Latin America's Peculiar New Strength

Argentina, Brazil and Chile are taking distinctly different routes to prosperity

Claudio Edinger for TIME

Brazil makes jets as well as bikinis.

It felt like the end of the world at the edge of the earth. It was 2002, and Argentina was in economic free fall. The peso lost 75% of its value against the U.S. dollar, and the nation had defaulted on almost $100 billion of debt. Bank deposits were frozen to halt panicked runs, and an enraged middle class took to the streets. The country went through five Presidents in just two weeks. Wall Street feared that the crisis, one of the worst in South America's history, would spread next door to giant Brazil--where the élite predicted financial ruin if Luiz...

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