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The Cambridge History of "Capitalism"

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  • Peter Temin

Abstract

This review essay of the two-volume Cambridge History of Capitalism (2014), edited by Larry Neal and Jeffrey G. Williamson, is divided into three parts. First, I describe three chapters from the second volume that I recommend for all economists to add depth to their understanding of the world economy today. Robert C. Allen analyzes the world distribution of income; Randall Morck and Bernard Yeung discuss the history of business groups; and Peter Lindert surveys private and public programs to help the poor. In each case, they analyze historical backgrounds that illuminate current issues. Second, I criticize the definition of capitalism used in these volumes as too expansive to be useful. I argue that this definition mars the essays in first volume by stimulating a fruitless search for capitalism in the millennium before the Industrial Revolution. Third, I describe the essays in this reference work starting from the most recent and ending with those about antiquity.

Suggested Citation

  • Peter Temin, 2014. "The Cambridge History of "Capitalism"," NBER Working Papers 20658, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:20658
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • N14 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - Europe: 1913-
    • O57 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Comparative Studies of Countries
    • P12 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems - - - Capitalist Enterprises

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