Consensus forecast/Pronostico de consenso.

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Mexico

Dependent Economic boom not likely, but Mexico will grow, assuming recovery in the United States, which consumes 90% of Mexico's exports. Losing ground to China as major supplier to the world's biggest economy.

Distracted Politicians Infrastructure lacks, not clear President Fox will spend to update it. Coming 2006 presidential, elections mean two years of stagnation.

Remittances Soar Mexicans in the United States keep sending money home--on track to exceed US$16 billion annually--a boon to the economy.

Venezuela

Recall Rout President Chavez wins referendum, adding stability, but dissent remains high. Will, they ever accept his rule? Corruption grows.

Growth on Horizon Government sees 3% to 5% growth in 2005, following 10.5% jump in 2004. State oil giant Petroleos de Venezuela predicts new stability on record-high world oil prices.

Court Order The government controls electoral and constitutional arms of Supreme Court, putting Chavez in charge on judicial matters.

Colombia

Uribe's Agenda Constitution change could allow President Uribe's reelection. If it passes, Uribe must fight the urge to become another Latin American strongman. Peace negotiations continue.

Free Trade Talks proceed with the United States on free trade worth billions of dollars to Andean countries. Trade unions could stand in the way.

Money Woes Government could cut benefits to save pension system. Public accounts US$40 billion in the red and a $2.3 billion IMF loan expires in December.

Ecuador

Tightrope Political turbulence and troubled budgets keep President Gutierrez on his toes. Congressional pressure to spend could undermine reform. Deficit at US$550 million, with no multilateral, help in sight.

Balanced Budget Social-security reforms threaten fiscal balance. Nevertheless, higher tax collections help government hit targets. On Hold President Gutierrez's second shot at oil-sector reform dies in Congress, but new investment rules could emerge in 2005. State-run Petroecuador needs the money: Production is in decline.

Brazil

Growth Impressive industrial output drives economic expansion of 3.5% in 2005. Inflation a risk. President Lula must keep a lid on spending.

Leaps and Bounds Brazilian exports--driven by soy and steel to China--grow annually by 50%, heating up the economy. Government predicts US$100 billion in exports by 2006.

Buying In Government tax breaks attracting more hard currency. Foreign direct investment should hit US$15 billion in 2005, half of the 2000 high.

Peru

Cautiously Optimistic Economy is growing; budget in the black. Inflation could trigger rate hikes, though, as poverty rises. U.S. free-trade talks perhaps too Late for current administration. Check and Balance Accused of corruption, President Toledo submits to an audit. Smart or risky? We'll soon find out.

Open for Business US$1.6 billion Camisea gas plant opens. Promises cheap energy at home and export income, but many worry about the environment and tourism.

Argentina

I.O.U. Finance Minister to restructure US$100 billion foreign debt without the International Monetary Fund's blessing. Can Argentina survive on its own?

Wealth Distribution Government raises minimum wage, public pensions and welfare to combat poverty affecting more than 40% of population. Watch out for inflation and tower economic growth long-term.

Slipping Satisfaction with President Kirchner's administration declining. Crime, energy shortages and unemployment threaten as 2005 congressional elections loom.

Chile

Trade Boom Exports and imports increasing quickly. Economy should grow almost 5% in 2005. Nevertheless, joblessness hits 9.6%--the highest since 2001. Copper is king on Chinese demand.

Retired Rich Former...

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