Reading: Robert Allen (2011): Global Economic History: A Very Short Introduction, chapters 2 and 3
Links for the Week of January 22, 2016

Reading: Robert Allen (2011): Global Economic History: A Very Short Introduction, chapter 4

Robert Allen (2011): Global Economic History: A Very Short Introduction (New York: Oxford), chapter 4

As you read, focus on:

  1. The "standard package" of economic policies that, if successfully implemented, allows a 19th century economy to catch up to the world's then industrial leaders.

  2. The absence of large gaps in technological competence across the North Atlantic--how by 1870 or so the more advanced parts of western Europe and North America were very close to being one single engineering technical community. Note also that nobody outside was able to join.

  3. Up until 1870 or so technological progress was focused on the "old industries"--steam, iron, and textiles--of the Industrial Revolution. Starting in 1870 we get "new industries": automobiles, petroleum, electricity, chemicals. Does Allen provide us with a way to understand why there was this sudden spreading-out of the front of invention and innovation from narrow to broad?

  4. Allen's has a tidy explanation of why Zimbabwe, Malawi, and India are poor today--that it is unprofitable to invest in machines because labor is cheap and labor is cheap because nobody has invested in machines. Thus even though the technological knowledge is in the air, and even though finance for profitable projects is easily raised throughout the world, the poor stay poor. Is this an adequate theory? Isn't it close to being a tautology--or, alternatively, to being a simple declaration that anything can happen? How could we make more intellectual progress on this issue?