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The Wealth of Nations

A country's competitive edge can spread industry to industry, like a disease

The economies of poor and developing countries often depend almost exclusively on a single product—perhaps timber or coffee—or on a handful of products at most. That's hardly a startling observation, but what's puzzled economists over the years is why it's been so difficult for these countries to start up new activities in the hope of spurring economic growth and lifting themselves out of poverty.

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