World Economic Primacy: 1500-1990

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Oxford University Press, Jan 25, 1996 - Business & Economics - 288 pages
Charles Kindleberger's World Economic Primacy: 1500-1990 is a work of rare ambition and scope from one of our most respected economic historians. Extending over broad ranges of both history and geography, the work considers what it is that enables countries to achieve, at some period in their history, economic superiority over other countries, and what it is that makes them decline. Kindleberger begins with the Italian city-states in the fourteenth century, and traces the changing evolution of world economic primacy as it moves to Portugal and Spain, to the Low countries, to Great Britain, and to the United States, addressing the question of alleged U.S. decline. Additional chapters treat France as a perennial challenger, Germany which has twice aggressively sought superiority, and Japan, which may or may not become a candidate for the role of "number one." Kindleberger suggests that the economic vitality of a given country goes through a trajectory that can usefully (thought not precisely) be compared to a human life cycle. Like human beings, the growth of a state can be cut off by accident or catastrophe short of old age; unlike human beings, however, economies can have a second birth. In World Economic Primacy, Kindleberger takes into account the influence of complex historical, social, and cultural factors that determine economic leadership. A brilliant overview of the position of nations in the world economy, World Economic Primacy conveys profound insights into the causes of the rise and decline of the world's economic powers, past and present.

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1 Introduction
2 The National Cycle
3 Successive Primacies
4 The Italian CityStates
5 Portugal and Spain
6 The Low Countries
7 France the Perpetual Challenger
8 Britain the Classic Case
9 Germany the Latecomer
10 The United States
11 Japan in the Queue?
12 Conclusion

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Page 128 - To propose that Great Britain should voluntarily give up all authority over her Colonies, and leave them to elect their own magistrates, to enact their own laws, and to make peace and war, as they might think proper, would be to propose such a measure as never was, and never will be adopted by any nation in the world.
Page 33 - Regimes can be defined as sets of implicit or explicit principles, norms, rules, and decision-making procedures around which actor expectations converge in a given issue-area.
Page 128 - Britain would not only be immediately freed from the whole annual expense of the peace establishment of the colonies, but might settle with them such a treaty of commerce as would effectually secure to her a free trade, more advantageous to the great body of the people, though less so to the merchants, than the monopoly which she at present enjoys.
Page 9 - Examine the records of history, recollect what has happened within the circle of your own experience, consider with attention what has been the conduct of almost all the greatly unfortunate, either in private or public life, whom you may have either read of, or heard of, or remember ; and you will find that the misfortunes of by far the greater part of them have arisen from their not knowing when they were well, when it was proper for them to sit still and to be contented.
Page 93 - The Prodigious increase of the Netherlander in their Domestick and Foreign Trade, Riches, and multitude of Shipping, is the Envy of the present, and may be the wonder of all future Generations...
Page 44 - The prodigious increase of the Netherlands, in their domestic and foreign trade, riches, and multitude of shipping, is the envy of the present, and may be the wonder of future generations...
Page 17 - But if we single out the various nations or the separate branches of industry, the picture becomes less uniform. Some nations seem to have led the world at one time, others at another. Some industries were developing most rapidly at the beginning of the century, others at the end. Within single countries or within single branches of industries (on a world scale) there has not been uniform, unretarded growth.

About the author (1996)

Charles P. Kindleberger is the Ford International Professor of Economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Among his many works is A Financial History of Western Europe, Second Edition (Oxford, 1993) and Manias, Panics and Crashes (1989).

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