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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.
The first volume of The Cambridge History of Capitalism provides a comprehensive account of the evolution of capitalism from its earliest beginnings. Starting with its distant origins in ancient Babylon, successive chapters trace progression up to the 'Promised Land' of capitalism in America. Adopting a wide geographical coverage and comparative perspective, the international team of authors discuss the contributions of Greek, Roman, and Asian civilizations to the development of capitalism, as well as the Chinese, Indian and Arab empires. They determine what features of modern capitalism were present at each time and place, and why the various precursors of capitalism did not survive. Looking at the eventual success of medieval Europe and the examples of city-states in northern Italy and the Low Countries, the authors address how British mercantilism led to European imitations and American successes, and ultimately, how capitalism became global.
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.
Building social tables in the tradition of Gregory King, we develop new estimates suggesting that between 1774 and 1800 American incomes fell in real per capita terms. The colonial South was richer than the North at the start, but was already beginning to lose its income lead by 1800. We also find that free American colonists had much more equal incomes than did households in England and Wales. The colonists had greater purchasing power than their English counterparts over all of the income ranks except in the top percent.