This chapter introduces the remarkable technological changes of the time: changes in production techniques introduced higher levels of efficiency and optimism. It describes the development of the global markets in trade, finance and migration. The chapter briefly traces larger patterns of global economic integration over the entire period. It shows how Norway was able to exploit these global opportunities to escape from its poverty. A global financial system grew to support the expanding network of trade. This new system was home to a wide range of international borrowers and lenders, gathered in some of Europe's largest cities, to secure the capital for both private and public ventures. International investors and borrowers were able and willing to come together because the values of their national currencies were linked to gold. This linkage eliminated exchange rate fluctuations among currencies, allowing traders and investors to discount an important source of risk.