Modern World Systems: Miami & Latin America

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in at 7/04/2014 10:55:00 AM
Miami--a metropole to any number of Latin American satellites.
The relative vastness of the United States makes it "proximate" to any number of world regions. Think of the West Coast and Hawaii being the United States' gateways to the Asia-Pacific region. Or, think of Miami and its proximity to Latin America. Miami has, for a long time, had a "cool" image to counteract the other one of being a retirement destination for fogeys puttering about in golf carts. Think Miami Vice from the 80s. The World Cup being held in Brazil this year (and the Olympics two years afterwards in Rio de Janeiro) helps remind that, yes, Miami is America's gateway to the region.

The obvious sign of meriting gateway status is that increasing economic activity in the region you are serving as a gateway to redounds to your benefit--only perhaps more so if you are a believer in modern-world systems theory:
Therefore, the world system is not viewed as having always been composed of a single core and single periphery, but rather of an inter-linked set of center-periphery complexes, joined together in an overall ensemble...

Yet this multicentricity does not mean "equality" among the various centers or between different center-periphery complexes in the world system. This multicentricity is hierarchically structured. There is a very complex "chain" of "metropole-satellite" relations of extraction and transfer of surplus throughout the whole world system.
What Miami offers is exposure to Latin America while limiting the political risks from operating there directly. Latin Americans still wary of expropriation, inflation and so on need little persuading that parking their money in Miami is a good safety precaution against the whims and caprices of their rulers. Conversely, catering to this safety-first Latin American elite who've squirreled money away in the relative haven that is Miami--some call it "capital flight"--becomes a relatively profitable endeavor:
International traffic to the city is on the upswing, and in 2013, for the first time ever, the majority of visitors—51 percent—came from outside the US. Together they represent 70 percent of overall tourism dollars spent in Miami, according to William Talbert III, the president of the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Florida has been officially bilingual for two decades, but Miami has long been known as the US capital of Latin America for its cultural vibe and regional business hub status. Indeed, more than 40 percent of the population speaks Spanish at home.

Investment is flowing in from far beyond Latin America, joining Miami-headquartered US companies like Burger King and a trio of cruise companies—Carnival, Norwegian, and Royal Caribbean. London-based Swire Properties is building Brickell City Centre, a $1.05 billion (77.4 billion euros) complex that will include homes, offices and shops when it opens in 2016. Britain’s Virgin Hotels moved its headquarters to Miami from New York in 2013. Spain’s Banco Santander and Portugal’s Banco EspĂ­rito Santo have set up shop along Brickell Avenue, the city's business centre.
Notice the sorts of businesses setting up shop in Miami: They are in financial services, real-estate, and travel. They relate to each other in that banking services just outside the reach of nosy Latin regulators in Miami are valued by elites, real estate in Miami is seen as a good investment in a low-risk and dynamic part of the US, and Miami has a superior infrastructure to handle forays into the region in search of surplus capital extraction.

For further validation, see the Economist:
The IRS has estimated that foreign individuals have up to $400 billion in American accounts. Miami’s financial centre has the most to fear, though it has become less accommodating towards dirty money over the past decade, and a good deal of what remains is thought to have been moved out of banks and into local property.