Investment Management Review

Apr 1, 2002

Against the odds, the best Latin American funds posted respectable returns last year. And despite Argentina?s troubles, economic fundamentals in the region?s main markets look strong and stocks and bonds stand to benefit.

Ever since hitting a peak in August 1997, the level of assets invested in Latin American investment funds has been trending downward. By March of this year, open-end Latin American fund assets totaled $1.4 billion, only a quarter of their size five years ago, according to Merrill Lynch. Investors have simply lost interest in these dedicated Latin American funds and now tend to prefer a more diversified strategy that spreads both risk and opportunities for gain across multiple markets and regions of the world. But dedicated funds can still be a good vehicle for investors who want to remain focused on Latin America and who are convinced of its long-term growth prospects, driven by a continued downward trend in inflation and interest rates in key markets. Yet investors' faith was tested severely in 2001, a particularly difficult year as Latin American equity and fixed income markets suffered. Economic recession...

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