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Opinion
Tyler Cowen

Colombia’s Economy May Yet Catch Up to the Hype

The country is full of entrepreneurial energy and vibrant businesses but has struggled to achieve robust growth. That could change.

Brisk business.

Brisk business.

Photographer: Long Visual Press/Universal Images Group Editorial/Getty Images

Few countries occasion more potential optimism than Colombia, yet the reality falls short of the promise. The country appears to be doing well, so if you visit Colombia, as I did over the last week, it becomes a kind of referendum on the wealth of nations. Which should you believe more – the generally positive evidence before your eyes, or the mediocre hard numbers?

The pluses for Colombia are easy to discover. The country’s major cities are full of attractive office buildings and retail shops, not just in a few wealthy neighborhoods but throughout the city. Both Bogotá and Medellín put on a good show of being ready for the big time, even if they are not yet fully arrived. It is impossible to visit those places and come away thinking of Colombia as a lost cause.