Americans are known for their optimism and their southern neighbours for their relaxed attitudes. But lately the tables appear to have turned. People in the US are suddenly downbeat – at least as a general public and a polity, even if on an individual level we (I have to state my conflict of interest here) are as annoyingly chirpy as ever – while Latin America is in economic overdrive. Brazil is full of kinetic energy, trying to get ready for the World Cup and Olympic Games that will come in no time at all, and the rest of the region has the whiff of boom times. In fact, if looking strictly at FDI metrics, the US is doing better than it thinks and Latin America is way ahead of the game.

With so much attention focused on the high-growth economies of Asia, it is often missed that the Americas are having a collective FDI heyday. In Europe, people like to fret about competition from the east, without thinking that much about what is coming up rapidly across an ocean to the west.

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Two years ago, the Americas was the only world region to defy the global decline in greenfield FDI project numbers, according to our fDiMarkets investment tracking database. Other areas have recovered since then, and Asia-Pacific remains on top, but the growth story in the Americas has not let up.

As fDi’s Global Outlook Report 2011 noted, Brazil is moving rapidly up the global FDI destination charts: off the back of a nearly 30% increase in project numbers last year, the South American behemoth shimmied its way up from number 11 to number seven among recipient countries.

North America was among the fastest growing regions for inbound project numbers, having posted its sixth consecutive year of greenfield FDI growth. Manufacturing, if we were to believe some of the hand-wringing headlines, is supposed to be dead, but there was a 50% increase in production projects being sited in North America last year, the biggest in the world.

Meanwhile, Latin America and the Caribbean was the only region in the world to have seen a rise in capital expenditure and job creation last year. Canada, among the few advanced economies to come out well from the financial crisis, and one of only a handful that saw increases in inbound greenfield FDI in the aftermath, has continued its solid performance since then. The US remained atop the global greenfield FDI destination rankings for yet another year, even expanding its lead over China.

Competition never lets up and each part of the Americas has its challenges (let’s not talk about that near-default, Uncle Sam, since this is supposed to be a happy column), but from where we sit in the midst of our FDI data at fDiTowers, it looks like the sun is rising in the west. Cheer up, my fellow Americans (Latin and otherwise).

Courtney Fingar is the editor of fDi Magazine. E-mail: Courtney.Fingar@ft.com