This well-written volume provides a survey of Mexican economic problems largely in physical terms. It is concerned with resources and industries and is mainly statistical and historical in its approach, rather than theoretical. The author discusses public policies in connection with most of the problems and makes precise criticisms of economic deficiencies. He submits numerous positive and practical recommendations for changes in business practices and public policies.
Because of the essentially pragmatic approach, there is little integration in the analyses of the various problems discussed, scant reference to the overall functioning of the economy, and virtually no basic theoretical orientation. The book is also lacking in descriptive institutional material. One acquires much useful knowledge of statistical trends in agriculture, mining, manufacturing, banking, the national income, and public finance, but little knowledge of farming, manufacturing, or banking institutions.
The extensive statistical survey provided by this volume, however, is clear and informative. As a review of Mexican economic trends, it is extremely useful. It is also a competent introduction to the policy issues related to some of Mexico’s most important current problems. It would be highly desirable to have such a statistical overview for our own students in the United States as background for more advanced theoretical and institutional analysis of American problems. The teaching of economics in the United States often seems to this reviewer too theoretical and insufficiently founded on statistical knowledge.
López Rosado’s text contains eighteen chapters. The first stresses climate, topography, and resources and is a survey of the physical foundations of Mexican economic life. Three subsequent chapters are devoted to agriculture. Then follow chapters on mining, petroleum, various manufacturing industries, transportation, the national income, the monetary system, banking and credit, public finance, labor, public investment, public health, and population. The chapters dealing with banking, the monetary system, public finance, and public investment are rather weak. These subjects require much deeper analysis in terms of theory than the author gives them, even assuming an essentially statistical approach. The book ends with what seems to the reviewer an extraneous discussion of racial intermixture and the failure to come to grips with Mexico’s main social problem, the excessive rate of population growth.
The book has excellent maps and tables. The chief statistical sources are the Banco de México, Nacional Financiera, and the Secretaría de Industria y Comercio. Since the volume contains few original data, its statistical merits depend mainly upon the validity of the government figures.