18 results back to index
Guns, germs, and steel: the fates of human societies by Jared M. Diamond
affirmative action, Atahualpa, British Empire, California gold rush, correlation does not imply causation, cuban missile crisis, discovery of the americas, European colonialism, Francisco Pizarro, Hernando de Soto, invention of movable type, invention of the wheel, invention of writing, James Watt: steam engine, Maui Hawaii, QWERTY keyboard, the scientific method, trade route
Within a few days of my setting up an isolated forest camp with Wiwor and Sauakari, they came close to fighting each other with axes. Tensions among the groups that Achmad, Wiwor, Sauakari, and Ping Wah represent dominate the politics of Indonesia, the world's fourth-most- populous nation. These modern tensions have roots going back thousands of years. When we think of major overseas population movements, we tend to focus on those since Columbus's discovery of the Americas, and on the resulting replacements of non-Europeans by Europeans within historic times. But there were also big overseas movements long before Columbus, and prehistoric replacements of non-European peoples by other non-Euro- pean peoples. Wiwor, Achmad, and Sauakari represent three prehistorical waves of people that moved overseas from the Asian mainland into the Pacific. Wiwor's highlanders are probably descended from an early wave that had colonized New Guinea from Asia by 40,000 years ago.
Atahuallpa's capture symbolizes the European conquest of the Americas, because the same mix of proxi- mate factors that caused it was also responsible for European conquests of other Native American societies. Let us now return to that collision of hemispheres, applying what we have learned since Chapter 3. The basic question to be answered is: why did Europeans reach and conquer the lands of Native Americans, instead of vice versa? Our starting point will be a comparison of Eurasian and Native American societies as of A.D. 1492, the year of Columbus's “discovery” of the Americas. OUR COMP ARISON BEGINS with food production, a major determi- nant of local population size and societal complexityhence an ultimate factor behind the conquest. The most glaring difference between American and Eurasian food production involved big domestic mammal species. In Chapter 9 we encountered Eurasia's 13 species, which became its chief source of animal protein (meat and milk), wool, and hides, its main mode of land transport of people and goods, its indispensable vehicles of war- fare, and (by drawing plows and providing manure) a big enhancer of crop production.
Overcomplicated: Technology at the Limits of Comprehension by Samuel Arbesman
3D printing, algorithmic trading, Anton Chekhov, Apple II, Benoit Mandelbrot, citation needed, combinatorial explosion, Danny Hillis, David Brooks, discovery of the americas, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, Flash crash, friendly AI, game design, Google X / Alphabet X, Googley, HyperCard, Inbox Zero, Isaac Newton, iterative process, Kevin Kelly, Machine translation of "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." to Russian and back, mandelbrot fractal, Minecraft, Netflix Prize, Nicholas Carr, Parkinson's law, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman: Challenger O-ring, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, software studies, statistical model, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, superintelligent machines, Therac-25, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, urban planning, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, Whole Earth Catalog, Y2K
As the writer Philip Ball notes in his book Curiosity, “The ideal collection was comprehensive—not in that it contained an example of every object or substance in the world (although efforts were sometimes made towards such exhaustiveness), but in that it created its own complete microcosm: a representation of the world in miniature.” With a cabinet of curiosities, you could take in the entirety of the universe and all its complications at a glance. But not only did some of these cabinets appear to be little more than a miscellaneous hodgepodge; it was soon realized that they could never be big enough. Ball quotes a point made by the writer Patrick Mauries: that after the discovery of the Americas there was too much diversity to be contained within a single collection. The world was beginning to be recognized as too various and complex. Now, choices had to be made: What should make it into these rooms, and what could be ignored? Cabinets of curiosities persisted for a long time, in their own way. A couple of decades ago I visited the Niagara Falls Museum. Now closed, it was owned at the time by a friend’s father and was one of the last of the wunderkammers.
3D printing, Ada Lovelace, AI winter, Airbnb, artificial general intelligence, augmented reality, barriers to entry, bitcoin, blockchain, brain emulation, Buckminster Fuller, cloud computing, computer age, computer vision, correlation does not imply causation, credit crunch, cryptocurrency, cuban missile crisis, dematerialisation, discovery of the americas, disintermediation, don't be evil, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, epigenetics, Erik Brynjolfsson, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, Flash crash, friendly AI, Google Glasses, industrial robot, Internet of things, invention of agriculture, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, life extension, low skilled workers, Mahatma Gandhi, means of production, mutually assured destruction, Nicholas Carr, pattern recognition, Peter Thiel, Ray Kurzweil, Rodney Brooks, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Skype, South Sea Bubble, speech recognition, Stanislav Petrov, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, strong AI, technological singularity, theory of mind, Turing machine, Turing test, universal basic income, Vernor Vinge, wage slave, Wall-E
As Eliezer Yudkowsky put it, what if “the AI does not hate you, nor does it love you, but you are made out of atoms which it can use for something else.” Getting its retaliation in first A superintelligence with access to Wikipedia will not fail to realise that humans do not always play nicely together. Throughout history, meetings between two civilisations have usually ended badly for the one with the less well-developed technology. The discovery of the Americas by Europeans was an unmitigated disaster for the indigenous peoples of North and South America, and similarly tragic stories played out across much of Africa and Australasia. This is not the result of some uniquely pernicious characteristic of European or Western culture: the Central and South American empires brought down by the Spaniards had themselves been built with bloody wars of conquest.
A Pelican Introduction Economics: A User's Guide by Ha-Joon Chang
Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Albert Einstein, Asian financial crisis, asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, banks create money, Berlin Wall, bilateral investment treaty, borderless world, Bretton Woods, British Empire, call centre, capital controls, central bank independence, collateralized debt obligation, colonial rule, Corn Laws, corporate governance, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, discovery of the americas, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, eurozone crisis, experimental economics, Fall of the Berlin Wall, falling living standards, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, Frederick Winslow Taylor, full employment, George Akerlof, Gini coefficient, global value chain, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, Haber-Bosch Process, happiness index / gross national happiness, high net worth, income inequality, income per capita, interchangeable parts, interest rate swap, inventory management, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, joint-stock company, joint-stock limited liability company, Joseph Schumpeter, knowledge economy, laissez-faire capitalism, land reform, manufacturing employment, Mark Zuckerberg, market clearing, market fundamentalism, Martin Wolf, means of production, Mexican peso crisis / tequila crisis, Northern Rock, obamacare, offshore financial centre, oil shock, open borders, post-industrial society, precariat, principal–agent problem, profit maximization, profit motive, purchasing power parity, quantitative easing, road to serfdom, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, savings glut, Scramble for Africa, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, sovereign wealth fund, spinning jenny, structural adjustment programs, The Great Moderation, The Market for Lemons, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, trade liberalization, transaction costs, transfer pricing, trickle-down economics, Washington Consensus, working-age population, World Values Survey
Snails: the World Economy before Capitalism Western Europe grew really slowly … Capitalism started in Western Europe, especially in Britain and the Low Countries (what are Belgium and the Netherlands today) around the sixteenth and the seventeenth centuries. Why it started there – rather than, say, China or India, which had been comparable to Western Europe in their levels of economic development until then – is a subject of intense and long-running debate. Everything from the Chinese elite’s disdain for practical pursuits (like commerce and industry), the discovery of the Americas and the pattern of Britain’s coal deposits has been identified as the explanation. This debate need not detain us here. The fact is that capitalism developed first in Western Europe. Before the rise of capitalism, the Western European societies, like all the other pre-capitalist societies, changed very slowly. The society was basically organized around farming, which used virtually the same technologies for centuries, with a limited degree of commerce and handicraft industries.
Postcapitalism: A Guide to Our Future by Paul Mason
Alfred Russel Wallace, bank run, banking crisis, banks create money, Basel III, Bernie Madoff, Bill Gates: Altair 8800, bitcoin, Branko Milanovic, Bretton Woods, BRICs, British Empire, business process, butterfly effect, call centre, capital controls, Claude Shannon: information theory, collaborative economy, collective bargaining, Corn Laws, corporate social responsibility, credit crunch, currency manipulation / currency intervention, currency peg, David Graeber, deglobalization, deindustrialization, deskilling, discovery of the americas, Downton Abbey, en.wikipedia.org, energy security, eurozone crisis, factory automation, financial repression, Firefox, Fractional reserve banking, Frederick Winslow Taylor, full employment, future of work, game design, income inequality, inflation targeting, informal economy, Internet of things, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, Joseph Schumpeter, Kevin Kelly, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, late capitalism, low skilled workers, market clearing, means of production, Metcalfe's law, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, mortgage debt, Network effects, new economy, Norbert Wiener, Occupy movement, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, payday loans, post-industrial society, precariat, price mechanism, profit motive, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, RAND corporation, rent-seeking, reserve currency, RFID, Richard Stallman, Robert Gordon, secular stagnation, sharing economy, Stewart Brand, structural adjustment programs, supply-chain management, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Transnistria, union organizing, universal basic income, urban decay, urban planning, wages for housework, women in the workforce
The former communist countries achieve about the same – albeit via twelve years of catastrophic decline and then a growth surge spurred by Euro entry for the satellites and oil money for Russia itself. But the most spectacular thing is what happens to the bottom line – the developing world. It grows by 404 per cent after 1989. It is this that prompted the British economist Douglas McWilliams, in his Gresham lectures, to nominate the last twenty-five years as the ‘greatest economic event in human history’. World GDP rose by 33 per cent in the 100 years after the discovery of the Americas, and GDP per person by 5 per cent. In the fifty years after 1820, with the Industrial Revolution underway in Europe and the Americas only, world GDP grew by 60 per cent, and GDP per person by 30 per cent. But between 1989 and 2012 world GDP grew from $20 trillion to $71 trillion – 272 per cent – and, as we’ve seen, GDP per person increased by 162 per cent. On both measures, the period after 1989 outpaces the long post-war boom.43 10.
Capitalism: Money, Morals and Markets by John Plender
Andrei Shleifer, asset-backed security, bank run, Berlin Wall, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Black Swan, bonus culture, Bretton Woods, business climate, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, central bank independence, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collective bargaining, computer age, Corn Laws, corporate governance, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, Deng Xiaoping, discovery of the americas, diversification, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, eurozone crisis, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, fiat currency, financial innovation, financial intermediation, Fractional reserve banking, full employment, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, Hyman Minsky, income inequality, inflation targeting, invention of the wheel, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, labour market flexibility, London Interbank Offered Rate, London Whale, Long Term Capital Management, manufacturing employment, Mark Zuckerberg, market bubble, market fundamentalism, means of production, Menlo Park, moral hazard, moveable type in China, Nick Leeson, Northern Rock, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, paradox of thrift, Plutocrats, plutocrats, price stability, principal–agent problem, profit motive, quantitative easing, railway mania, regulatory arbitrage, Richard Thaler, rising living standards, risk-adjusted returns, Robert Gordon, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, savings glut, shareholder value, short selling, Silicon Valley, South Sea Bubble, spice trade, Steve Jobs, technology bubble, The Chicago School, The Great Moderation, the map is not the territory, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, time value of money, too big to fail, tulip mania, Upton Sinclair, We are the 99%, Wolfgang Streeck
Since a successful alchemist would have been no more able to keep his formula secret than the first claimant in a gold rush, the prospect of infinite supply would have turned gold into a commodity about as valuable as sand. Yet even Sir Isaac Newton, father of modern physical science, devoted much of his career to alchemical research. Few were more immoderate in their blindness than sixteenth-century European adventurers, whom John Maynard Keynes regarded as the originators of capitalism. We owe the Europeans’ discovery of the Americas to gold, for gold was the probable motive that drove Christopher Columbus westward: his diary of a voyage that lasted less than a hundred days mentions gold sixty-five times. The Spanish conquistadores who followed – Cortés, Pizarro and their men – were not only brutal and rapacious in their imperialist incursions into Mexico and Peru; by bringing European diseases to the Americas, they also inadvertently wiped out much of the population of the areas they colonised.
Blood River: A Journey to Africa's Broken Heart by Tim Butcher
airport security, blood diamonds, clean water, colonial exploitation, colonial rule, discovery of the americas, European colonialism, failed state, Livingstone, I presume, Scramble for Africa, transatlantic slave trade, transatlantic slave trade
The Congo's output of the occasional shipment of ivory or raffia could not compete with the huge volume of silks and spices available in Asia and, in the face of commercial competition, the Portuguese soon found another asset they could take from the Congo - slaves. Slavery was a long-established practice among African tribes. Any raiding party that successfully attacked a neighbour would expect to return with slaves. But what made the Portuguese demand for slaves different was its scale. The simultaneous discovery of the Americas by European explorers created an apparently limitless demand for labour to work on the plantations of the New World, and in Europe's African toeholds slavery was turned overnight from a cottage industry into a major, global concern. The effect on the Congo was devastating. The plunder of people started out on a small scale in the early 1500s, with Portuguese traders paying Congolese warriors for the occasional slave they brought back with them from raids.
Africa: A Biography of the Continent by John Reader
agricultural Revolution, British Empire, Cape to Cairo, clean water, colonial rule, discovery of the americas, illegal immigration, land reform, land tenure, Livingstone, I presume, new economy, out of africa, Scramble for Africa, spice trade, surplus humans, the market place, Thomas Malthus, trade route, transatlantic slave trade, transatlantic slave trade, urban sprawl, women in the workforce
Lovejoy's estimates show that an average of about 2,500 slaves were exported each year between 1450 and 1600; but this figure rose to 18,680 per year for the period 1601 to 1700, and reached a peak of 61,330 per year during the following century (1701 to 1800); even at the end of the nineteenth century (ninety years after abolition) it was still running at an average of 33,300 slaves per year.10 The surge in numbers can be attributed to the discovery of the Americas and the European taste for sugar. Columbus discovered the Caribbean islands and North America for Spain in 1492; Pedro Alvares Cabral discovered Brazil for Portugal in 1500. Both the Caribbean islands and the Brazilian coastlands were ideally suited for the production of sugar; both regions were inhabited by people whom Pêro Vaz da Caminha (a chronicler who sailed with Cabral) described as ‘people of good and pure simplicity [with] fine bodies and good faces’.11 But their natural attributes were no defence against the disease and labour demands of the Portuguese settlers, who began to establish sugar plantations in Brazil during the 1540s.
Sailors were warned to be silent; facts about the discoveries were carefully garbled; maps and navigation charts were removed from contemporary books, and the making of globes, maps, and charts became the privilege of a single family, whose loyalty to the Portuguese crown was unquestioned.12 Direct action included standing orders which instructed Portuguese sea-captains to seize all foreign vessels encountered on the West African coast and cast their crews into the sea.13 But of course word did leak out, and vessels of other nations persistently defied the Portuguese monopoly. After 1492 the attention of an avaricious neighbour, Spain, was diverted from West Africa by the discovery of the Americas, but the French and the English, the Dutch and the Danish, would not be kept out. Often they not only traded in the territories that Portugal had claimed but took additional profit by seizing Portuguese vessels as well. Between 1500 and 1531, for example, French ships alone captured more than 300 Portuguese vessels in West African waters and along the coast of Brazil.14 During the sixteenth century the Portuguese expanded their empire to include territories spread around the globe from South America to the Spice Islands of the Far East.
Civilization: The West and the Rest by Niall Ferguson
Admiral Zheng, agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, Andrei Shleifer, Atahualpa, Ayatollah Khomeini, Berlin Wall, BRICs, British Empire, clean water, collective bargaining, colonial rule, conceptual framework, Copley Medal, corporate governance, credit crunch, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, Dean Kamen, delayed gratification, Deng Xiaoping, discovery of the americas, Dissolution of the Soviet Union, European colonialism, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Francisco Pizarro, full employment, Hans Lippershey, haute couture, Hernando de Soto, income inequality, invention of movable type, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, James Hargreaves, James Watt: steam engine, John Harrison: Longitude, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, land reform, land tenure, Louis Pasteur, Mahatma Gandhi, market bubble, Martin Wolf, means of production, megacity, Mikhail Gorbachev, new economy, probability theory / Blaise Pascal / Pierre de Fermat, profit maximization, purchasing power parity, quantitative easing, rent-seeking, reserve currency, road to serfdom, Ronald Reagan, savings glut, Scramble for Africa, Silicon Valley, South China Sea, sovereign wealth fund, special economic zone, spice trade, spinning jenny, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, The Great Moderation, the market place, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, total factor productivity, trade route, transaction costs, transatlantic slave trade, transatlantic slave trade, upwardly mobile, uranium enrichment, wage slave, Washington Consensus, women in the workforce, World Values Survey
It would be Europeans that reached out across the Atlantic Ocean to take possession of a vast landmass that, prior to Martin Waldseemüller’s Universalis cosmographia of 1507, simply did not appear on maps: America – named after the explorer Amerigo Vespucci.* It was Europe’s monarchies – above all Spain and England – who, vying for souls, gold and land, were willing to cross oceans and conquer whole continents. To many historians, the discovery of the Americas (broadly defined to include the Caribbean) is the paramount reason for the ascendancy of the West. Without the New World, it has been asserted, ‘Western Europe would have remained a small, backward region of Eurasia, dependent on the East for transfusions of technology, transmissions of culture, and transfers of wealth.’1 Without American ‘ghost acres’ and the African slaves who worked them, there could have been no ‘European Miracle’, no Industrial Revolution.2 In view of the advances already achieved in Western Europe both economically and scientifically prior to large-scale development of the New World, these claims seem overblown.
How to Change the World: Reflections on Marx and Marxism by Eric Hobsbawm
anti-communist, banking crisis, battle of ideas, Berlin Wall, British Empire, currency manipulation / currency intervention, deindustrialization, discovery of the americas, experimental subject, Fall of the Berlin Wall, full employment, labour market flexibility, market fundamentalism, means of production, new economy, Simon Kuznets, Thorstein Veblen, Upton Sinclair, upwardly mobile
The source of this labour was partly the former feudal retainers and armies, partly the population displaced by agricultural improvements and the substitution of pasture for tillage. With the rise of manufactures nations begin to compete as such, and mercantilism (with its trade wars, tariffs and prohibitions) arises on a national scale. Within the manufactures the relation of capitalist and labourer develops. The vast expansion of trade as the result of the discovery of the Americas and the conquest of the sea-route to India, and the mass import of overseas products, notably bullion, shook the position both of feudal landed property and of the labouring class. The consequent change in class relations, conquest, colonisation ‘and above all the extension of markets into a world market which now became possible and indeed increasingly took place’26 opened a new phase in historical development.
Andrei Shleifer, asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, Benoit Mandelbrot, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Bretton Woods, capital controls, carbon footprint, Carmen Reinhart, Cass Sunstein, centre right, choice architecture, cloud computing, collective bargaining, conceptual framework, Corn Laws, corporate governance, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, debt deflation, decarbonisation, Deng Xiaoping, discovery of DNA, discovery of the americas, discrete time, diversification, double helix, Edward Glaeser, financial deregulation, financial innovation, financial intermediation, first-past-the-post, floating exchange rates, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, Frank Levy and Richard Murnane: The New Division of Labor, full employment, George Akerlof, Gini coefficient, global supply chain, Growth in a Time of Debt, Hyman Minsky, I think there is a world market for maybe five computers, income inequality, inflation targeting, interest rate swap, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, James Dyson, James Watt: steam engine, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, labour market flexibility, Long Term Capital Management, Louis Pasteur, low-wage service sector, mandelbrot fractal, margin call, market fundamentalism, Martin Wolf, means of production, Mikhail Gorbachev, millennium bug, moral hazard, mortgage debt, new economy, Northern Rock, offshore financial centre, open economy, Plutocrats, plutocrats, price discrimination, private sector deleveraging, purchasing power parity, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, railway mania, random walk, rent-seeking, reserve currency, Richard Thaler, rising living standards, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, Rory Sutherland, shareholder value, short selling, Silicon Valley, Skype, South Sea Bubble, Steve Jobs, The Market for Lemons, the market place, The Myth of the Rational Market, the payments system, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, too big to fail, unpaid internship, value at risk, Washington Consensus, working poor, éminence grise
Without it, the growth of science would have been impossible as there could have been no codifying or dissemination of scientific discoveries. Then there is the three-masted sailing ship, which allowed large vessels to sail close to the wind, permitted the Portuguese and then their European imitators to sail around the world. Without this GPT, there would have been no circumnavigation of the globe; no discovery of the Americas, leading to new centres of power and productive capacity; no European colonisation; no long-distance sea trade; no rich European merchant class; no consequent financial innovations, such as joint stock companies and marine insurance, to deal with the risk and uncertainty of long voyages; and less possibility of the principles of magnetism being understood. Similarly, in the nineteenth century, the railway was much more than just a transport technology.
accounting loophole / creative accounting, anti-communist, Asian financial crisis, asset-backed security, Atahualpa, balance sheet recession, bank run, banking crisis, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Bretton Woods, British Empire, California gold rush, capital controls, Carmen Reinhart, central bank independence, centre right, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, credit crunch, currency manipulation / currency intervention, Deng Xiaoping, discovery of the americas, Etonian, eurozone crisis, fiat currency, financial innovation, floating exchange rates, Francisco Pizarro, full employment, German hyperinflation, hiring and firing, income inequality, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, joint-stock company, joint-stock limited liability company, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, labour market flexibility, market bubble, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, moral hazard, new economy, oil shock, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, price mechanism, quantitative easing, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, South Sea Bubble, the market place, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, too big to fail, War on Poverty, Yom Kippur War
Smith made the further point that, after the discovery of Potosí, ‘the silver mines of Europe were, the greater part of them, abandoned’, since the value of silver ‘was so much reduced that their produce [of the European silver mines] could no longer pay the expence of working them . . . with a profit’. Turning to England, Smith observed that American silver did not seem ‘to have had any very sensible effect upon the price of things in England till after 1570; though even the mines of Potosi had been discovered more than twenty years before’.45 Yet, of the modern economists, it was John Maynard Keynes who most frequently returned to the theme of the discovery of the Americas and their effect on the modern world. In 1930 he wrote: ‘The modern age opened . . . with the accumulation of capital which began in the sixteenth century. I believe . . . that this was initially due to the rise of prices, and the profits to which that led, which resulted from the treasure of gold and silver which Spain brought from the New World into the Old.’46 The possibilities thrown up by the expansion of Spain into the Americas, with the flow of bullion and treasure which accompanied the discovery of new mines, fascinated Keynes.
air freight, Andrei Shleifer, battle of ideas, Bretton Woods, British Empire, business process, business process outsourcing, Carmen Reinhart, clean water, colonial rule, correlation does not imply causation, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, Deng Xiaoping, desegregation, discovery of the americas, Edward Glaeser, en.wikipedia.org, European colonialism, Francisco Pizarro, fundamental attribution error, germ theory of disease, greed is good, income per capita, invisible hand, James Watt: steam engine, Jane Jacobs, John Snow's cholera map, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, M-Pesa, microcredit, Monroe Doctrine, oil shock, place-making, Ponzi scheme, risk/return, road to serfdom, Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas L Friedman, urban planning, urban renewal, Washington Consensus, World Values Survey, young professional
Conversely, trust and respect between groups would facilitate mutual recognition of rights that would facilitate the emergence of freedom, in which there would be checks on the power of government to abuse individuals of whatever group. The emergence from autocracy toward freedom had happened in a few northern Italian cities. But freedom only had a future if it continued to spread. FREEDOM MOVES TO THE ATLANTIC The most famous son of Genoa, Christopher Columbus, would inadvertently make possible the spread of freedom. The boom in European trade after the discovery of the Americas gave freedom new strongholds 800 miles north of Genoa. Economists Daron Acemoglu and Simon Johnson of MIT and political scientist James Robinson of Harvard have been pioneers in reintroducing historical research into economics, with the aim of explaining economic development. In a prominent 2005 article,21 they tackled the question of why the frontiers of freedom had shifted from northern Italy to Western Europe in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
Albert Einstein, Andrei Shleifer, asset allocation, asset-backed security, bank run, Benoit Mandelbrot, Black-Scholes formula, Bretton Woods, Brownian motion, capital asset pricing model, card file, Cass Sunstein, collateralized debt obligation, complexity theory, corporate governance, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, discovery of the americas, diversification, diversified portfolio, Edward Glaeser, endowment effect, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, experimental economics, financial innovation, Financial Instability Hypothesis, floating exchange rates, George Akerlof, Henri Poincaré, Hyman Minsky, implied volatility, impulse control, index arbitrage, index card, index fund, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, John Nash: game theory, John von Neumann, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, libertarian paternalism, linear programming, Long Term Capital Management, Louis Bachelier, mandelbrot fractal, market bubble, market design, New Journalism, Nikolai Kondratiev, Paul Lévy, pension reform, performance metric, Ponzi scheme, prediction markets, pushing on a string, quantitative trading / quantitative ﬁnance, Ralph Nader, RAND corporation, random walk, Richard Thaler, risk/return, road to serfdom, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, Sharpe ratio, short selling, side project, Silicon Valley, South Sea Bubble, statistical model, The Chicago School, The Myth of the Rational Market, The Predators' Ball, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Thomas L Friedman, Thorstein Veblen, Tobin tax, transaction costs, tulip mania, value at risk, Vanguard fund, volatility smile, Yogi Berra
For that reason, the subject got short shrift from mathematical economists for decades. Now, by ditching the equilibrium while sticking with math, economists are finding better ways to describe the dynamics of growth and change. A key word in the new growth theory is “endogenous”—that is, arising from within. In an equilibrium, all disturbance must by definition come from outside. Explaining a spurt in economic growth requires a deus ex machina such as the discovery of the Americas or the invention of the electric motor. In new growth theory, the technological drivers of growth are depicted as the result of economic forces and decisions.31 Bringing this concept of endogenously generated change to the shorter-term fluctuations of the market is a more complex endeavor. In recent years a few economists and finance scholars have begun laboring on market models that do just that.
British Empire, clean water, colonial rule, discovery of the americas, distributed generation, Donner party, estate planning, Etonian, full employment, Hernando de Soto, hive mind, invention of radio, invention of the telegraph, James Watt: steam engine, Khyber Pass, Menlo Park, Plutocrats, plutocrats, transcontinental railway, Works Progress Administration
Measuring America: How an Untamed Wilderness Shaped the United States and Fulfilled the Promise of Democracy. New York: Walker, 2002. Louis-Philippe. Diary of My Travels in America, tr. Stephen Becker. New York: Delacorte Press, 1977. Lyell, Charles. A Second Visit to the United States of North America. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1855. ———. Travels in North America in the Years 1841–1842. New York: Charles E. Merrill, 1909. Mann, Charles C. 1493: How Europe’s Discovery of the Americas Revolutionized Trade, Ecology and Life on Earth. London: Granta, 2011. Marx, Leo. The Machine in the Garden: Technology and the Pastoral Ideal in America. New York: Oxford University Press, 1964. Masters, Edgar Lee. Spoon River Anthology. New York: Macmillan, 1916; Signet Classics, 1992. McCague, James. Moguls and Iron Men: The Dramatic Story of the Dreamers and Doers Who Spanned the American Continent with the First Transcontinental Railroad.
Admiral Zheng, Asian financial crisis, Berlin Wall, Bretton Woods, BRICs, British Empire, credit crunch, Dava Sobel, deindustrialization, Deng Xiaoping, deskilling, discovery of the americas, Doha Development Round, energy security, European colonialism, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, global reserve currency, global supply chain, illegal immigration, income per capita, invention of gunpowder, James Watt: steam engine, joint-stock company, Kenneth Rogoff, land reform, land tenure, Malacca Straits, Martin Wolf, Naomi Klein, new economy, New Urbanism, open economy, pension reform, price stability, purchasing power parity, reserve currency, rising living standards, Ronald Reagan, Scramble for Africa, Silicon Valley, South China Sea, sovereign wealth fund, special drawing rights, special economic zone, spinning jenny, Spread Networks laid a new fibre optics cable between New York and Chicago, the scientific method, Thomas L Friedman, trade liberalization, urban planning, Washington Consensus, Xiaogang Anhui farmers
In the light of the economic transformation of so many former colonies after 1950, it is clear that the significance of decolonization and national liberation in the first two decades after the Second World War has been greatly underestimated in the West, especially Europe. Arguably it was, bar none, the most important event of the twentieth century, creating the conditions for the majority of the world’s population to become the dominant players of the twenty-first century. As Adam Smith wrote presciently of the European discovery of the Americas and the so-called East Indies: To the natives, however, both of the East and West Indies, all the commercial benefits which can have resulted from these events have been sunk and lost in the dreadful misfortunes which they have occasioned . . . At the particular time when these discoveries were made, the superiority of force happened to be so great on the side of the Europeans, that they were enabled to commit with impunity every sort of injustice in those remote countries.
Empire by Michael Hardt, Antonio Negri
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And yet the movements of renewal continued their work of liberation at the base. Whereever spaces were closed, movements turned to nomadism and exodus, carrying with them the desire and hope of an irrepressible experience.13 The internal conﬂict of European modernity was also reﬂected simultaneously on a global scale as an external conﬂict. The development of Renaissance thought coincided both with the European discovery of the Americas and with the beginnings of European dominance over the rest of the world. Europe had discovered its outside. ‘‘If the period of the Renaissance marks a qualitative break in the history of humanity,’’ writes Samir Amin, ‘‘it is precisely because, from that time on, Europeans become conscious of the idea that the conquest of the world by their civilization is henceforth a possible objective . . .
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They were about to hit the limits of what was possible with their technology, and there was every reason to expect global recession and declining population in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Yet the last two hundred years have seen more economic growth than all earlier history put together. The reason, Pomeranz explains in his important book The Great Divergence, is that western Europe, and above all Britain, just got lucky. Like Frank, Pomeranz sees the West’s luck beginning with the accidental discovery of the Americas, creating a trading system that provided incentives to industrialize production; but unlike Frank, he suggests that as late as 1800 Europe’s luck could still have failed. It would have taken a lot of space, Pomeranz points out, to grow enough trees to feed Britain’s crude early steam engines with wood—more space, in fact, than crowded western Europe had. But a second stroke of luck intervened: Britain, alone in all the world, had conveniently located coalfields as well as rapidly mechanizing industries.