This is a fine book on Venezuela and its economic and sociopolitical problems during the 20 years preceding the beginning, in 1999, of the Hugo Chávez Frías administration. The book is the result of a research project initiated by Ricardo Hausmann and Francisco R. Rodríguez that tries to answer the puzzle of the country's economic slowdown in the 1980s, after it had successfully established a stable political and economic system between 1940 and 1970. In trying to figure out this conundrum, the directors of this exceedingly ambitious project married empirical case studies that use cross-country data sets to test various hypotheses on economic growth with in-depth microstudies of the country's experience. The result is a book that covers a wide variety of economic areas, such as the oil, manufacturing, and financial industries, as well as the educational system, the economic impact of...

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