The Americas Economy


Throughout the world, different economies exist, which consists of multiple facets. When talking about the Americas economy, the focus remains on North America, South America, Central America, and the Caribbean, which is outlined in more detail below.



Throughout the world, different economies exist, which consists of multiple facets. When talking about the Americas economy, the focus remains on North America, South America, Central America, and the Caribbean, which is outlined in more detail below.


North America


North America entails the northern continent of the Americas to include countries such as the United States, Canada, Haiti, and Mexico. In addition, North America is bordered by the North Atlantic Ocean to the east, the Arctic Ocean to the north, the North Pacific Ocean to the west, and the Caribbean Sea to the southeast. North America is so vast that some 530 million people live over a land mass of 9.5 million square miles. Because of this, the continent is rated as the third largest on the planet.


Thanks to modern day advancements, most countries within North America are quite sophisticated although Mexico continues to develop in areas such as manufacturing, power, and transportation. Currently, per capital GDP is $46,900 and for GDP-PPP, 2008 was at $14.61 trillion, 2009 at $14.25 trillion, and 2010 at $14.62 trillion. Experts believe 2011 will show a growth of approximately 2.3%. For the GDP, the latest numbers for 2011 show services as number one with 76,9%, followed by industry at 21.9% and agriculture at 1.2%. Then for unemployment, 2009 was at 9.3%, 2010 slightly higher at 9.7%, and projections by year-end 2011 to be down somewhat at 9.6%.


Find up-to-date information on North America’s economy, including statistics, industry information and forecasts on EconomyWatch.


South America


South America is in recovery mode after being hit relatively hard by the 2008-2009 world financial crises although compared to other regions of the world has come out with less damage. Countries of which the South America economy is ranked include Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Columbia, and Peru. Overall, the GDP dropped significantly in 2009 by 3.6% with recovery improving even more dramatically in 2010 and projections for 2011 being excellent. A primary example of this can be seen in the country of Peru, which has seen the second fastest growth over the past 19 months of 9.2% thanks to demand in private investment fuels.


For example, in looking at Real GDP specific to annual percentage change, Brazil was at 2.9 for 2009, 7.6% for 2010, and while down to 5.5% projections for 2011, it is still clear that this country within South America is on the mend. For Chile, 2009 was at 3.7%, 2010 at 5.5%, and projections for 2011 at 6.5%. Finally, Peru saw 5.1% GDP in 2009 and 8.5% in 2010. As with Brazil, numbers are expected to drop in 2011 to 6.8%, which is still a solid increase from 2009.


In summary, the economic outlook for South America is favorable, as outlined below:


  • Argentina is expected to see growth in the agribusiness and energy sectors while ongoing issues between the business sector and the country’s government could create some short-term economic and investment rifts.


  • For Brazil, the economy is experiencing consistent growth, specifically within the energy sector. As the largest economy within the continent, experts believe that Brazil will see the greatest economic benefits.


  • The Chile economy appears stable even though this country has had some recession challenges but for renewable energy, 2011 is expected to see growth.


  • Columbia – As an important foreign investment destination for the United States, free markets and private participation improvements experienced in 2010 are expected to improve in 2011.


  • Peru – Because Peru has one of the most sustainable of all Latin American economies, it is not surprising that 2010 economic growth was sound and 2011 is expected to be even better, particularly within the country’s banking system.


Regarding unemployment rates, 2009 was listed at 8.4% with 2010 seeing a small drop to 8.2%. Because the overall economy looks optimistic, it is anticipated that 2011 will end with even lower rates of unemployment.


Find up-to-date information on South America’s economy, including statistics, industry information and forecasts on EconomyWatch.


Central America


While some countries within Central America have seen some economic stability such as Panama, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua being more developed, other less developed countries face ongoing economic challenges. Other countries within Central America that make up the economic structure include El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Honduras, and Panama. Of these countries, Panama has the highest GDP per capita at $3,080 although the Costa Rica economy remains solid and in fact, is growing.


Some of the numbers pertaining to GDP for Central America include the following:


  • Panama – This economy saw a 7.5% growth in 2010 with the GDP reaching $20.9 million
  • El Salvador – For 2011, the government is investment a whopping $818 million in social programs, with this accounting for 3.76% of the GDP
  • Guatemala – The GDP growth rate for 2010 was up 3.6%, although projections for year-end 2011 being somewhat optimistic
  • Honduras – Although numbers for Honduras have remained stable, economists state that economic indicators for 2011 are positive
  • Panama – The GDP in Panama increased 7.5% in 2011 with numbers expected to increase by the close of 2011
  • Costa Rica – GDP for this country is expected to drop somewhere between 1.3% and 2.1% from 2010 to 2011


Studies show what over the next decade, 4% of Central America’s GDP will go into infrastructure although the greatest challenge remains too many resources being spent in small, unproductive companies.




The final economy we wanted to discuss is the Caribbean. The positive economic aspect is that for 2011, the GDP is expected to see a 3.1% increase. In 2010, the GDP saw just a 2.1% growth and while it is expected that outside financing will be somewhat of a challenge to secure, again the 2011 GDP is expected to rise. The country will need to increase exports but also save energy as a means of increasing overall productivity. One area being focused on is the reduction of foreign debt, as well as growth in both investment and construction sectors.


As far as current unemployment, recent reports show that a 0.6% decline was seen in 2010. That means that unemployment rate of 8.1% in 2009 dropped to 7.5% in 2010. In addition, it is expected that by year-end 2011, the rate will drop as much as an additional 0.4%. However, officials are being cautious, having some concern that the quality of work may not improve significantly long-term. For this, more productive employment opportunities and quality of work must be developed. To accomplish this, bottlenecks in the labor market must be eliminated, promotional instruments must be enhanced, policy coordination needs to be improved, and macroeconomic policies strengthened.


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