Chapter 1 summarizes the main theses of the book and provides an overview of the contents of each of its chapters. It argues that the episodes of rapid economic growth (during the Porfiriato and postwar industrialization), in addition to political stability and a favorable international economic environment, have in common the establishment of a consensus on economic policy matters, the presence of correct perceptions by the political and economic elites on the true constraints on economic development, and a very unequal distribution of the benefits of economic growth, which in turn led to the loss of consensus in the subsequent periods of stagnation. By contrast, the periods of economic stagnation tend to feature political instability and external economic shocks, together with misperceptions among the country's elites and/or the absence of consensus.
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