Globalization Myths: Some Historical Reflections On Integration, Industrialization And Growth In The World Economy
It has become popular to draw a parallel between current globalization trends and the half century of international economic integration before the First World War. Indeed, some writers suggest that current trends mark a return to this earlier period, from which they draw strong conclusions about growth prospects and convergence associated with globalization. This paper assesses this historical parallel. It accepts that many features of today´s international economy are not unique. However, it is sceptical of efforts to make a direct parallel with the earlier period. In particular, the paper shows that the period before 1913 was not one of trade liberalization, nor one of reduced expectations about the role of the State, and suggests that rapid industrial growth in some economies cannot be explained by globalization pressures. More generally, a description of this earlier period of globalization as one of rapid growth and convergence is questioned, and instead associated with uneven economic development, during which a very small group of countries were able to reinforce their domestic growth efforts through links to the international economy, while for others these same links did little to alter long-term growth prospects, and in some cases even hindered them.
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