chapter  4
53 Pages

The Political Origins of a Global Economy: Power and Markets

A global economy is an astonishing thing to behold. It involves the production, transportation, and exchange of goods, services, and knowledge among billions of people, over thousands of miles, and across national boundaries and oceans, often including investments and the movement of money over equal distances. Perhaps less obvious, a global economy involves arrangements for the coordination of economic activity as it crosses distances, boundaries, and currencies. Making economic exchange work can mean following the rules established by one dominant political entity, or from cooperation among different powers, or from ad hoc rules negotiated by traders. Further, these activities can have enormous consequences for people’s lives. This can influence the division of labor on a global scale, meaning what is produced and where; incomes may follow this division; goods from afar can improve people’s lives or disrupt their livelihoods; and knowledge, technology, and military power frequently come along with goods and services.