Playing the Brazil-Mexico Rivalry With ETFs

Includes: EWW, EWZ, ILF
by: Tom Lydon

Brazil’s economy, with its steadfast and robust growth, is something to envy, and envy is exactly what Mexico is feeling. While both countries’ economies and related exchange traded funds have experienced remarkable gains, Brazil’s denizens seem to be happier about their situation.

Mexican President Felipe Calderón is on a campaign to spread optimism in Mexico, reports David Agren for World Politics Review. Mexico is perceived by the rumor-mongering international and domestic community as rife with chaos. To emphasize the point, Calderón mentions Brazil’s perception as “some sort of paradise” compared to Mexico because its citizens speak positively about the country.

Still, the fact is that Mexico’s economy contracted 6.8% in 2009, foreign direct investment has been halved over the past year, and state, labor and economic reforms were sidetracked in last July’s midterm elections. [Brazil's Central Bank Targets Inflation.]

Brazil, on the other hand, emerged out of the global down turn rather smoothly. The country is also slated to host the 2014 Olympics World Cup and the 2016 Olympics, to the growing envy of Mexico. [ETF Strategies for the BRIC Countries.]

Mexico and Brazil have started talks for a free-trade agreement that would lessen Mexico’s dependence on the U.S. markets, which makes up 80% of Mexico’s exports. [Reasons Mexico is Just as Hot as Brazil.]

Political analyst Juan E. Pardinas and other observers attribute Brazil’s fast growth to economic reforms and pragmatic governance. Meanwhile, Calderón has managed to push through some reforms, but political observers say they’re inadequate. For instance, the Mexico fell behind in reforms in the energy sector. The government allowed an increased private sector participation in state-run oil Pemex but failed to address other problems like the dominance of the oil worker’s union and sufficient incentives for outside help to exploit new petroleum fields. Whereas, Brazil’s very successful Petrobras has remained in state-controlled hands.

  • iShares MSCI Mexico ETF (NYSEARCA:EWW)

  • Shares MSCI Brazil Index (NYSEARCA:EWZ)

  • iShares Latin America 40 Index (NYSEARCA:ILF): Brazil is 61.4%; Mexico is 23.6%

Max Chen contributed to this article.