This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book provides an overview of the issues from economic, political, and historical perspectives. It presents the essential background for a discussion of the debt issue, and explains the origins of the debt crisis, including both external and internal factors. The book also provides analysis on the five largest debtors—Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, and Venezuela—Frieden identifies the economic interests of different social groups, both during the period of heavy borrowing in the 1970s and early 1980s and after lending ceased in 1982. It looks at the debt crisis of the 1930s to draw some historical comparisons with the current situation. The book also examines three crucial sets of actors in the current crisis: US creditors, Latin American business, and Latin American labor. It deals with a study of various actors in the United States and their interactions with Latin American governments.