Contributors to this section are instructed that “Controversial issues should be raised, theories exposed or denounced, interesting and controversial questions asked.” Accordingly, the purpose of this paper is to suggest that the economists and economic historians of Europe and America have been guilty of ethnocentricity in their understanding of the development of the international economy. Blinkered by their own cultural horizons, they tend to see their own continents as the “core” of the system, and the rest of the world as the “periphery”. Most important events in economic life originated in their continents and were transmitted to other continents, and on the whole the economic life of other continents is given scant consideration. A good example of this tunnel vision is the international wheat trade, the main food grain of Western populations. This has been the subject of many studies, too numerous to list here. 1 But wheat in fact was the basic food grain for less people in the world than rice, the great food grain of Asia. Yet the number of studies on the rice trade are few, although the present author is working on a substantial review of the international rice trade. The story of wheat is the tale of farm expansion in North America, Argentina, Australia, Russia and India, etc., and the growth of farm incomes derived from wheat was crucial to the expansion of demand for manufactured goods in these areas. But this paper will suggest that wheat was not operating in a market situation in which it was isolated from other human food grains. On the contrary it was being bought and sold in the same market as rice. Rice and wheat together formed the basic market for mankinds food. In consequence, economic factors affecting the world wheat market also affected the world rice market, and forces which influenced the world rice market mutually influenced the world wheat market. For example, American farmers unwittingly were subject to the vagaries of the Monsoon, because their Asian rivals were! The integration of the wheat market and the rice market was a prominent feature of the world's economic development in the late nineteenth century, and was dependent to some extent upon the electric telegraph, the opening of the Suez Canal, and the coming of the steamship. 2 This dovetailing of the rice market with the wheat market also reveals a more fundamental insight into Asian economic life. The fact that their basic foodstuff was traded in the world market system shows that the Asian economy was not isolated from the market system of the West, but part of it. The movement of gold and silver between East and West in these years suggests this was true, but the trade in food grains confirms it. 3 What is more, Asian societies were not just self-sufficient, mutual welfare systems, in which economic life was subordinate to social considerations as the followers of the late Karl Polanyi might suggest. The responsiveness of the Asian peasant to the incentives of the international market in rice demonstrates beautifully how market orientated they were. The peasants of Asia were petty capitalists, not petty communists. 4 One further point which the paper will make, is to propose that it was the interaction of the rice world with the wheat world which was the outcome of the development of the international market in the nineteenth century, which led to the global agricultural depression of the late 1920s and early 1930s. In this later period both grains enjoyed extremely good harvests, and the profusion of grain brought down prices, ruining farmers, and indeed the banks who supplied them with credit. As farmers went bust, their capacity to purchase manufactured goods was destroyed, with severe consequences for manufacturing industry all over the world. The origins of the depression are to be found with the world's farmers, both in the East and in the West.