The mass smuggling of cigarettes in Paraguay offers an important lesson for those looking to legalization as a panacea. Even with a product that can be bought legally and just about anywhere, smugglers are ready to cash in on price differences and more than a few smokers are willing to buy from them.
The end of the upswing phase of the commodity price super-cycle after its peak in 2011 has lowered economic growth prospects in most of Latin America. While that broad statement can hardly be disputed, chapter 3 of the latest IMF Western Hemisphere Regional Economic Outlook called attention to underlying significant differences among countries in the region.
South American political elites seem to have jettisoned much of the high minded left idealism of past years in favor of crass economic interests. In a somewhat outlandish turn of events, Brazil has embraced Vladimir Putin, a figure who has desperately sought to end his country's political and diplomatic isolation.