The World Economy’s Orbit

The map below shows the shifting location of the world’s economic center of gravity. It was compiled by McKinsey and reproduced by The Economist. All is broadly as one might expect. In pre-industrial times, the world’s economic center of gravity was always basically triangulated between India, China, and the Roman Empire (later North-West Europe). By […]

Ayn Stalin: Soviet Inequalities In 1929-1954

While researching my article on Soviet economic performance relative to the US (it was bad), I came across this fascinating graph showing income inequality in the USSR since 1946. As you can see, the 10% richest Soviet citizens in the first postwar year were more than seven times as rich as the 10% poorest. That is […]

The Soviet Economy – Charting Failure

Many Communists, leftists, and even patriots (I’m sorry to say) have a pronounced tendency to make out the Soviet economy as not quite the resounding failure it really was – or even to paint it as a success story that was only brought down by perestroika and liberal reforms. The above chart – based on […]

Book Review: Kenneth Pomeranz – The Great Divergence

Pomeranz, Kenneth – The Great Divergence: China, Europe, and the Making of the Modern World Economy (2001) Category: economy, history, world systems; Rating: 5*/5 Summary: Brad DeLong’s review; The Bactra Review; Are Coal and Colonies Really Crucial? The Power Of Contingency: Why China Didn’t Rule The World It’s a rare book that not only vastly informs you on a […]

Another View of the US Economy: Observations on Exergy, GDP & Median Incomes

The standard view of the American economy is one of exponential growth: even if interrupted by a recession once a decade and a Depression once every two generations (the 1890’s, the 1930’s, the 2010’s?), the engines of industry would always come back roaring again. Output per American could always be expected to increase as it […]

The Transition 20 Years On: The Reckoning

It is now nearly 20 years since market reformers began liberalizing the economies of Eastern Europe, or as some smart-ass put it, trying to revive the fish in the centrally planned fish stews. These stews, cooked to diverse recipes from goulash socialism to Soviet “structural militarization“, were subjected to a wide spectrum of overlapping treatments ranging […]

Book Review: Ha-Joon Chang – Kicking Away the Ladder

Chang, Ha-Joon – Kicking Away the Ladder: Development Strategy in Historical Perspective (2002) Category: economy; history; industrial policy; Rating: 5/5 Summary: Kicking Away the Ladder:How the Economic and Intellectual Histories of Capitalism Have Been Re-Written to Justify Neo-Liberal Capitalism (Ha-Joon Chang) Much has been said of the smug arrogance, cultural aloofness and end-of-history conceit characterizing the […]