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The Cambridge History of Capitalism
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  • Cited by 2
  • Volume 2: The Spread of Capitalism: From 1848 to the Present
  • Edited by Larry Neal, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Jeffrey G. Williamson, Harvard University, Massachusetts
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Book description

The second volume of The Cambridge History of Capitalism provides an authoritative reference on the spread and impact of capitalism across the world, and the varieties of responses to it. Employing a wide geographical coverage and strong comparative outlook, a team of leading scholars explore the global consequences that capitalism has had for industry, agriculture, and trade, along with the reactions by governments, firms, and markets. The authors consider how World War I halted the initial spread of capitalism, but global capitalism arose again by the close of the twentieth century. They explore how the responses of labor movements, compounded by the reactions by political regimes, whether defensive or proactive, led to diverse military and welfare consequences. Beneficial results eventually emerged, but the rise and spread of capitalism has not been easy or smooth. This definitive volume will have widespread appeal amongst historians, economists, and political scientists.


'In many respects the history of capitalism is the history most relevant to our times. It's a huge story and is well told in this very important book.'

Lawrence H. Summers - Charles W. Eliot University Professor, Harvard University

‘The two editors of The Cambridge History of Capitalism have done an excellent job in assembling an all-star group of scholars in presenting first-rate essays dealing with the development and accomplishments of capitalism and the important impacts of national and international markets for labor, capital, and goods throughout the world. These studies range in time from ancient Babylonia to today. All essays are superbly researched and highly informative in detailing the contributions of markets and of capitalism to global political and economic development.'

Stanley Engerman - University of Rochester, New York

'This is a book we have been waiting for: an authoritative analysis of the rise and development of global capitalism, inspired by the great classical economists and written by a team of excellent experts in the field. A fine update of our knowledge about one of the big questions in the social sciences.'

Jan Luiten van Zanden - Universiteit Utrecht, The Netherlands

'… an inestimable contribution.'

Source: Oxford Today

'Undeniably these two volumes amount to an impressive achievement … any reader will learn a great deal from these volumes and at the same time find their understanding significantly enhanced.'

Willie Thompson Source: European History Quarterly

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  • 9 - Internationalcapital movements and the global order
    pp 264-300
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    This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts covered in this book. The book deals with capitalism's evolution within Western Europe and its offshoots, and its spread to the rest of the world after 1848. The spread of global capitalism has two dimensions, and they can be distinguished by means of an analogy. The increased globalization across the nineteenth century was due to a combination of factors, especially the new transportation and information technologies. Late-twentieth-century growth rates by the East Asian tigers and then China have set a modern standard of 'growth miracles' hard to beat, making impressive growth spurts in the past look pretty modest. During the few decades between about 1820 and the mid nineteenth century, global migrations changed dramatically. Emigration policies changed, from restricting outflows before, to adopting laissez-faire policies thereafter. The late nineteenth century also saw a large increase in the integration of international capital markets, and in the volume of international capital flows.
  • 10 - Capitalismand the colonies
    pp 301-347
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    Before the industrial revolution, most of the world's manufacturing production took place in China and India. While the traditional manufacturing centers declined in the nineteenth century, other centers developed and, indeed, joined Britain to form the "industrial West". On the eve of the industrial revolution, British GDP per head was considerably above the world average. Economic growth was driven by the expansion of international trade, but the policies of the British state were at some variance with the prescriptions of Adam Smith. This chapter discusses colonialism, economic development, and standard model in Europe, Mexico, Russia, Latin America, Egypt and Japan. It then focuses on Big Push industrialization in Japan, China and Soviet Union. By the middle of the nineteenth century, the Standard Model was bearing fruit in the United States and Western Europe. China was not successful in building its own fertilizer plants in the 1960s, and in 1973-1974 the country contracted with foreign firms to build thirteen ammonia factories.
  • 11 - Capitalismat war
    pp 348-383
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    Agriculture has been the main source of livelihood for the overwhelming majority of the world's population for thousands of years, from the first production of crops some 8,000 years ago to the start of world wide industrialization in the nineteenth century. The acceleration in the rate of growth of the world population after World War ii was matched by an even sharper acceleration in the rate of growth of agricultural production, from about 1 percent per annum to over 2 percent. The increase of trade relative to output is strong evidence of a growing specialization of agricultural production. Since the beginning of the movement, credit cooperatives have established regional and national organizations for mutual support. In more recent times, these private organizations have been given formal guarantees by governments. Finally, the chapter focuses on extensive growth, modern property rights, intensive growth, consumer protection, competition policy, and the support given to scientific research.
  • 12 - Moderncapitalism:
    pp 384-425
  • Enthusiasts Opponents And Reformers
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    This chapter explores the interaction between technological innovation and the global spread of capitalism from 1848 to 2005. It then examines the interaction of technological innovation, the global spread of capitalism, and the varied ability of nations to "catch up" with the technological and economic leaders in the world economy during this period of more than 150 years. Technology is the integration of knowledge, organization, and technique, directed towards material transformations. The importance of incremental innovation underscores the complex relationship between the appearance of a new technology and its adoption. Innovation in transportation and communications technologies was essential to the growth of domestic and international commerce during the period between 1870 and 1914. The rise of industrial capitalism also changed the process of innovation itself. Government policies exerted a direct and indirect influence on innovation in the post-1850 world. Innovation was spurred by the growth of capitalism, but technology had powerful effects on the global spread of capitalism.
  • 13 - Labormovements
    pp 426-463
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    This chapter first examines the literature on law and the rise and spread of capitalism, and shows that much of it pays substantial attention to the unique features of each of the two European traditions, and to the different role played by each in enhancing capitalism. Max Weber was among the first to attribute a significant role to the law in the rise of capitalism. Next, the chapter surveys the development of the law in the core capitalist countries, in four fields of law that are postulated by economic theory as crucial for economic growth: the concept of freedom of contract, the establishment of land registries, patent law, and the formation of business corporations. Before the rise of capitalism, Western European states encouraged technological innovations in two ways, monetary payments and grants of monopoly. Finally, the chapter traces the spread of European capitalist law in these four fields to the rest of the world.
  • 14 - Privatewelfare and the welfare state
    pp 464-500
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    This chapter examines the role of business enterprises as actors in the spread of global capitalism since 1848. Since the middle of the nineteenth century, firms have been the strongest institution to operate across national borders, with the possible exception of the Roman Catholic Church. From the mid nineteenth century tens of thousands of firms, mostly based in Western countries which had experienced the industrial revolution, crossed borders and established operations in foreign countries. The global spread of firms rested crucially on the formal and informal institutions put in place during the nineteenth century, and sometimes earlier. The meltdown of the global economy during the interwar years is an important topic in economic history. Global capitalism had flourished within the context of Western colonialism, and became associated with the political and racial injustice of such regimes. After World War II ended, multinational firms made significant contributions to the reconstruction of a global economy.
  • 15 - Capitalism and human welfare
    pp 501-529
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    Business enterprises are organized very differently in different countries, and neoclassical economics is built around only one such model. Both historically and across modern economies, business groups are usually organized as pyramids. A family firm controls a first tier of listed companies by holding a dominant equity block in each. Business groups figure prominently in economic history, especially in late industrializers. Japan, an industrial power by the 1920s, was the first non-Western country to industrialize successfully. Large family-controlled business groups may well possess a genuine economic advantage over freestanding professionally run firms in low-income economies. Large pyramidal business groups persist in some highly developed economies. Their controlling families strive to be seen as good citizens, and are often keen to cooperate with popular governments. A high-income economy's Big Push commencement exercise can be traumatic for the graduating class of business group controlling shareholders.
  • 16 - The futureof capitalism
    pp 530-546
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    Through a combination of external forces and its inner dynamics financial capitalism has been transformed over the last 250 years. Central to financial capitalism is financial innovation. It is through innovation that financial capitalism responds to external challenges and opportunities while generating its inner dynamics. The most important organizational innovation in finance was the bank. A bank is a financial intermediary whereas a moneylender is a capitalist. Almost from the inception of financial innovation in products, markets, and organization, attempts were made to minimize the risks that they posed for all users. Regulatory innovation was also found in financial markets, though much again was left to the reputation of the participants. Evidence certainly exists to suggest there is a strong correlation between a country's per capita income and financial sector development, judged by such measures as bank deposits and holding of securities.


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