Beware the half-truths of investing.
My Foolish colleague Jim Gillies included a whopper in his write-up on Western Europe. He talked lovingly of the bureaucratic octopus that is the European Union and then pretended that it has no counterpart in South America. Say it with me, Fools: Mercosur. It's a trading alliance that ropes in almost all of South America -- whether on a member-state basis (like Brazil and Argentina) or an associate-member basis (like Chile, Peru, and Colombia).
It's dangerous to live -- and invest -- in the past. Yes, Western Europe is prosperous today. Yes, Western Europe is more technologically advanced today. Yes, Western Europe has more world-class companies today. The empires of Greece, Rome, Persia, and the Mongols were once the largest and/or most prosperous in the world, too.
In fact, you could have applied Jim's same argument to a very different region a century or so ago. Why invest in this "United States of America"? Europe has all the money, and it will continue to have all the money. Who needs that rough-and-tumble land far across the ocean when you've got England and France?
I'll say it again: There's nothing wrong with investing in Europe. I've spoken quite favorably of many European stocks, from E.ON (NYSE: EON ) to SAP (NYSE: SAP ) to Total SA (NYSE: TOT ) . But major multinationals are increasingly targeting South America, because that's where the growth will be.
And economic growth generally accompanies stock market growth. Brazilian energy company Petrobras (NYSE: PBR ) and Argentinean bank BBVA Banco Frances (NYSE: BFR ) may not be the obvious picks today, but you don't earn outsized returns on the obvious.
By all means, spread your bets around. But don't get lulled into the bunko notion that there's no money to be made well south of our borders.
South America is facing Western Europe in this Investing World Cup second-round match. Go back to the intro page to navigate your way to another part of this contest, and then vote for the region that you think should advance to the final round of the tournament!
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