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Volume 51 / Social Sciences

ECONOMICS: VENEZUELA


RENE MONSERRAT, Development Consultant, Bethesda, Md.

THIS LATEST GROUP OF ITEMS on economic themes does not appear to be as abundant as that of the preceding biennium, but quality and relevance seem to have improved in some cases. Oil related developments, the deficiencies of agricultural performance, and the adequacy of the Venezuelan development model (e.g., the entrepreneurial State, huge investment projects, comprehensive subsidization, and regulatory apparatus) constituted the core themes of the works reviewed. The preoccupation with the first two themes has been a constant, but the third represents a change in perceptions manifested also in an increasing awareness of productivity, efficiency, and market-related problems as a way to put growth back on track.

Four monographs and one essay are particularly interesting among the works covered in this volume. One of them, En busca de una estrategia económica (item bi 88002977), prepared by a group of Venezuelan and well-known foreign economists, argues clearly and forcefully in favor of a turnaround in development policies and strategies such as that currently taking place under the Pérez administration. Oscar Echevarría's book Deuda: crisis cambiaria; causas y correctivos (item bi 88002992) is the best comprehensive analysis of the most critical issues and policies facing the Venezuelan economy in this decade. La empresa manufacturera venezolana y las exportaciones no tradicionales by Antonio Francés (item bi 88002979) represents a very relevant research effort in an area of great current interest which has been quite devoid of meaningful operational- and policy-oriented research. Moisés Naím, in his rather ambitious theoretical work Posibilidades y limitaciones del funcionamiento de los mercados en los países menos desarrollados: una aplicación del enfoque de mercados y jerarquías al caso de Venezuela (item bi 88002983), makes an opportune contribution by explaining, via the market mechanism which is to be increasingly used in the development strategy of the country, why there is such a lack of continuity and effectiveness in public policy and private conduct. Gene Bigler and Franklin Tugwell's essay "Banking on Oil in Venezuela" (item bi 88000250) is a brief but very insightful review of Venezuela's development struggle and as such is required reading for those who want to gain a basic familiarity with Venezuela or to refresh their knowledge.

IESA publications represent a significant proportion of those selected for review. Most are by-products of symposia and similar events organized by IESA on issues of current interest. On the other hand, official reports and studies seem to have decreased in importance; the absence of Central Bank publications, which used to be relatively abundant, is especially noticeable.


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