From this week's cover story in Business Week, "Extreme Investing: Inside Colombia. An improbable journey from crime capital to investment hot spot. Can this boom last?"
"Entrepreneurial thinking here is spreading. Run a Google geographical-hit query, and you'll see that, per capita, nowhere in the world are there more searches for the words "Peter Drucker," the late management guru, than in Bogotá. No. 2? Medellín.
Yes, Medellín. Once the murder capital of the world, this city of 2.4 million is regaining its status as a commercial hub, hosting regional offices for a growing roster of multinationals including Philip Morris, Toyota, and Renault, as well as globally minded Colombian companies that make up 70% of the country's stock market value. More high-rises are under construction here than in Manhattan and Los Angeles combined."
As the graph above shows, Colombia's stock market is booming, generating returns of 32.81%, 50.22%, 45.07%, 86.22%, 118.91% and 17.32% in years 2001 through 2006!And what about all the crime that Colombia is so well known for? One sign of the rising fortunes in Colombia is the sudden misfortune of the self-proclaimed Bulletproof Tailor. Miguel Caballero makes suits and other apparel tough enough to withstand gunshots. His garment factory, located in a seedy neighborhood of Bogotá, features a picture gallery of famous customers, including action film star Steven Seagal and President Uribe, as well as glossies of Caballero discharging his handgun into the bulletproofed torsos of employees. Ten years ago, he says, his company sold 70% of its wares in Colombia. Now, thanks to the ebbing violence, that figure is just 20%. Caballero is dispatching salesmen to Russia, Venezuela, even Iraq. "The idea is to save the business," he says. "You can say we're globalizing."