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Latin Americans’ Economic Concerns Dwindle in 2010, Poll Shows

Dec. 3 (Bloomberg) -- Latin Americans are less concerned about the economy this year than in 2009 as the region recovers from the financial crisis, Santiago-based research group Latinobarometro said in a poll today.

Thirty-eight percent of Latin Americans ranked the economy, including unemployment and poverty, as the biggest problem facing their country in 2010, down from 44 percent last year, Latinobarometro said in a report posted on its website. Twenty-seven percent view crime as the biggest problem, up from 19 percent last year, the report said.

“The crisis moderated the population’s expectations for the future,” the report said. “Eleven of the region’s 18 countries have optimistic economic expectations.”

Forty-four percent of Latin Americans believe their personal economic situation will improve in the next year, matching last year’s levels, the report said. Expectations have improved from 35 percent in 2001 and declined from the decade’s peak of 49 percent in 2006, according to Latinobarometro.

The Latin American and Caribbean economy will expand an estimated 5.7 percent in 2010 and 4 percent in 2011 after shrinking 1.7 percent in 2009, according to the International Monetary Fund’s Regional Economic Outlook published Oct. 19.

Nineteen percent of Latin Americans viewed Brazil as the region’s leader, followed by the U.S. and Venezuela in a second-place tie, according to the report.

U.S. President Barack Obama is the most favorably viewed leader in Latin America, followed by his Brazilian counterpart, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, in second place and Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez in third, according to the report.

The poll, which has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percent, involved 20,204 interviews in 18 countries between Sept. 4 and Oct. 6.

To contact the reporter on this story: Randy Woods in Santiago at Rwoods13@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Joshua Goodman at jgoodman@bloomberg.net.

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