"Everyone who is anyone wants to invest in Russia."

Sorry, Rich, that's just flat-out bunk.

Oh, sure, there are companies making investments in Russia, but I wonder what will happen when Putin and his ruling thugs and cronies decide to summarily hike their tax bills through the roof and threaten to jail their executives if they don't pay up immediately. Much as some folks may want to mock or taunt the idea of investing in South America, the fact is that most of these countries have been improving in recent years, while Russia is regressing.

And let's look at some of the cases that Rich made for Russia. Big in nickel, big in steel, big in oil. In other words, another decrepit economy with little more to its name than natural resources. And those cell phone companies he likes? They've already scooped up the low-hanging fruit, and as they're forced to turn to poorer corners of the Russian Empire, investors may find that the profits don't live up to past billing.

On the other hand, South America is a region in transition. I'm not sure any sane American would want to fly in a Russian-built passenger jet, but Brazil's Embraer (NYSE:ERJ) continues to win business from the likes of U.S. Airways (NYSE:LCC). And Brazil has also taken the lead in both producing and using ethanol as an alternative to gasoline.

What's more, isn't it interesting that no Russian bank has been able to list itself on an American exchange? And yet here we have Bancolombia (NYSE:CIB) and Banco Frances (NYSE:BFR) (and several others) trading alongside Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) and Citigroup (NYSE:C).

Actually, I should thank Rich for making most of my pro-South America case for me. After all, it was he who pointed out the phenomenal gains in the Russian market -- gains that so dramatically outstrip the growth in the Russian economy that I think we can safely use the word "bubble" here.

South America is facing Eastern Europe in this Investing World Cup 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 next round of the tournament.

Embraer is a Motley Fool Stock Advisorpick, and Bank of America is aMotley Fool Income Investorpick.

For more international stock ideas, check out The Motley Fool International Report: Around the World in 80 Minutes.

Fool contributor Stephen Simpson has no financial interest in any stocks mentioned (that means he's neither long nor short the shares).

This article represents the opinion of one Fool and should in no way be taken as the opinion of either The Motley Fool, Inc., or the company in question, or as representative of anyone or anything other than that specific Fool's thoughts. So before buying, do your homework and review The Motley Fool's superbly sportsmanlike disclosure policy.