Latin America proved to be the safest haven in the global stock world without many places to hide. Brazil's orthodox economic policies, appreciating currency and natural resource-based economy made it the favorite among emerging market investors. That explains why Brazil was the top-performing market in the world with a gain of 14.7% in dollar terms, though, as noted above, a big chunk of this return was due to the appreciation of the Brazilian currency, the Real, against the U.S. dollar. Chile actually outperformed Brazil in local currency terms, even as Mexico ended the first half of the year flat. Columbia and Argentina were the relative laggards with returns of -13.1% and -2.8%, respectively. Venezuela's market crumbled almost 40% in dollar terms as its currency collapsed thanks to Hugo Chavez's anti-business rumblings.