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A Short History of the Global Economy Since 1800


  • Alam, M. Shahid


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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  • Alam, M. Shahid, 2003. "A Short History of the Global Economy Since 1800," MPRA Paper 1263, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:1263

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Romain Wacziarg & Karen Horn Welch, 2008. "Trade Liberalization and Growth: New Evidence," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 22(2), pages 187-231, June.
    2. John Williamson, 1994. "The Political Economy of Policy Reform," Peterson Institute Press: All Books, Peterson Institute for International Economics, number 68.
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    More about this item


    Global economy; fossil-fuels; imperialism; centralization; Periphery; Center; Imperialism; Karl Marx; World Bank; sovereignty; colonies; Washington Consensus;

    JEL classification:

    • O11 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Macroeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • F50 - International Economics - - International Relations, National Security, and International Political Economy - - - General
    • B40 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Economic Methodology - - - General
    • F54 - International Economics - - International Relations, National Security, and International Political Economy - - - Colonialism; Imperialism; Postcolonialism
    • Q43 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Energy and the Macroeconomy
    • F11 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Neoclassical Models of Trade
    • F1 - International Economics - - Trade


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