Munich Personal RePEc Archive

A Short History of the Global Economy Since 1800

Alam, M. Shahid (2003): A Short History of the Global Economy Since 1800.

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This paper presents a schematic history of the global economy since 1800. The economic and political logic of global capitalism in this period is defined by its ability to derive a growing share of its energy from fossil fuels. The explosive growth of this period, the dominance of capital, the growing military superiority of centers of capitalist growth, and the widening disparities in the global economy are ultimately driven by the logic of fossil-based capitalism. From 1800 to 1950, the global economy experienced growing centralization of capital and power, dividing the global economy into an advanced and dominant Center and a backward and subordinate Periphery. A period of decentralization follows from 1950 to 1990, when most segments of the Periphery regained various levels of control over their economies. Since the early 1990s, the forces of centralization have gained the upper hand.

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