If you didn’t watch the gold medal soccer/football match between Brazil and Mexico on Saturday, you missed a helluva game. I had to watch it on my iPad because the TV where I was didn’t broadcast it, which deprived us of the Mexican announcer’s breathless commentary and what I’m sure were two epic cries of, “GOOOOOOOOOOOOOL!”
The Brazilians, ever the favorites and with a football pedigree second to none, just seemed off their game, and the early score by Team Mexico probably threw Brazil off its rhythm. The end result — a 2 to 1 win by Mexico — ignited the Twittersphere and the streets of Mexico into unprecedented celebration. The Olympic gold medal in football was a thrilling and happy outcome for Mexico. One of my favorite tweets was, “I wonder if AMLO will accept THIS result.”
In ensuing hours, a host of pundits, not least among them the venerable Economist, seized upon Mexico’s win as evidence of a bigger trend, namely the ascendence of Mexico and the beginning of Brazil’s decline:
In recent years Brazil has outplayed Mexico, growing at 6% or more as Mexico bumped along in the slow lane. But lately that has changed. Last year Mexico grew by 4% and Brazil by 2.7%. This year Mexico is expected to get close to 4% again, whereas some economists reckon that Brazil’s rate could dip below 2%.
Several outlets such as the Eurasia Review also cited a recent study from Nomura Securities that suggested Mexico could supplant Brazil as Latin America’s biggest economy and driver of economic growth within 10 years, pointing out that even Brazilian investment firms such as Itaú are suggesting that clients invest outside Brazil.
This triumphalism might be a bit premature. As noted in the Eurasia Review article, Mexico still has a lot of obstacles to overcome, including narco violence and endemic corruption. And, for all of the hoopla about Mexico’s recent election, nobody really knows what president-elect Enrique Peña-Nieto is going to actually do once he gets into office in November.
If, however, Mexico is able to capitalize on its current growth trend and its own unique advantages, such as an increasingly educated workforce, low national debt and proximity to the United States, investment — and entrepreneurial growth — will be able to flourish as never before.
Mexico needs to keep its eye on the ball.