April 10, 1999
Development agency says Latin America has overcome economic crisis

                  ACAPULCO, Mexico (Reuters) -- Latin America has weathered the worst
                  of a financial crisis sparked by devaluations around the world and is set to
                  grow again in 2000, the head of the Inter-American Development Bank said
                  on Saturday.

                  Enrique Iglesias, president of the IADB, told Mexican bankers that Latam
                  America had taken the right steps to avoid the worst of the fallout from
                  financial storms in Asia, Russia and in Brazil.

                  "I think the worst is over, in particular I am optimistic about Brazil," Iglesias
                  told the annual convention of the Mexican Bankers Association in the Pacific
                  resort of Acapulco.

                  "The region has shown responsibility in the face of financial volatility and this
                  is the starting point for what will surely be a recovery in the year 2000," he

                  Asian financial turbulence in 1997 and 1998 led to a devaluation in Russia,
                  which in turn forced Latin American giant Brazil to allow its currency to float
                  in January, triggering economic recessions in many other Latin American

                  Brazil's currency, the real, fell around 40 percent before strengthening
                  somewhat against the dollar. It has stabilised in recent days on optimism a
                  $41.5 billion rescue package led by the International Monetary Fund will
                  combine with attempts to slash Brasilia's huge budget deficit to woo back
                  frightened foreign investors.

                  Nevertheless Mexico is the only Latin American country that is expected to
                  see its economy grow this year. Brazil may see its economic output contract
                  around 5 percent, pulling Argentina in particular down with it.

                  Iglesias said the region will remain vulnerable to global volatility, especially to
                  the extent it remains dependent on foreign capital to develop.

                  That capital can turn tail at the slightest sign of danger. On Friday, Citigroup
                  Inc. co-chief executive John Reed told the Mexican bankers convention he
                  believed there was an excess of some $500 billion in U.S. markets which
                  represented capital that had fled Asia, Russia and Latin America.

                  But Iglesias said he believed Latin American nations were doing their
                  homework, cutting budget deficits, letting their currencies float and being
                  disciplined in their monetary policies in order to confront the effects of
                  capital flight.

                  "I think ... this volatility which we will have to live with has been to some
                  extent managed and is being managed and I think the good and bad lessons
                  of past years should somehow leave us feeling a little satisfied that we are
                  handling things in the right way," he said.

                     Copyright 1999 Reuters.