There has been no shortage of commentary on the debt crisis in Latin America, but it has tended to focus on the problem's immediate features. The aim of this collection of essays by American, British and Latin American scholars is to provide the political and economic background. It examines the causes that led many Latin American countries to contract huge debts and the effect of world recession on their ability to pay. The internal causes are examined by means of detailed case studies of Brazil, Mexico, Chile, Venezuela and the Central American countries. The external factors are dealt with in the context of oil shocks, world recession, growing protectionism, rising interest rates and decline of international commodity prices. The book provides a comprehensive account of how the debt crisis came about and considers its consequences for the future development of Latin America and its relations with the industrialised world.