Was sufficiently unimpressed with that Atlantic graphic that I decided to make my own version with some of the same data.
I realize that this is far from perfect; comparing states across many centuries and many different political systems is incredibly difficult, and concepts of what constitutes economic production are also a little tricky, especially for cultures for whom relatively few records have been preserved. However, this is a really cool data set, and it’s worth seeing how the scale of economic production in different parts of the world has changed over time.
Note that here the scale is logarithmic; an upward growth of 5% is the same everywhere. This might be a little tricky to read, but it’s totally necessary to see the huge scope of economic growth over time. Some impressive attributes:
- For most of the last couple millennia, China and India have been the biggest richest civilizations in the world. The past couple centuries (and the next half-century or so) are basically an aberration from the standard state of things. It’s really difficult to show the scope of China’s growth in recent decades on a graph like this one, because there’s really no precedent for so much sustained economic growth.
- The UK had a big head-start on industrialization relative to France, Russia, or Japan (which all industrialized basically in lockstep). So it started out poor, and then rapidly caught up (and ended up with the hugest colonial empire). Turkey hugely lagged on industrialization.
- The impact of colonial depredation on North America was incredibly harsh. Total economic output from what’s now the United States actually declined drastically when European settlers arrived, due to a combination of disease, warfare, and deliberate disruption of longstanding food production and distribution networks. Within the first two hundred years of European contact, total economic output had fallen to levels five hundred years below the level at the time of European contact. That’s an absolutely horrible and unprecedented scale of devastation.
Data sets like this are relatively new and still very much under construction, but to me having hard empirical results like this are the best way to come up with good theories of how economies grow and interact and develop over time. I realize my graphic here isn’t exactly beautiful, but it doesn’t do quite the drastic disservice to the numbers that the Atlantic graphic did.
What do you think of our latest cover?
Mitt Romney’s plan to “replace” President Obama’s new immigration policy would only allow immigrants to avoid deportation if they served in the military, according to Talking Points Memo.
Romney outlined what he called a “civil but resolute” approach to undocumented immigration in a speech before the National Association of Latino Elected Officials in Orlando, where he also vowed to give spouses and young children priority in the green-card allocation process.
Last week, the Obama administration issued an order preventing the deportation of 800,000 immigrants who had been brought into the country before the age of 16. Under Obama’s plan, immigrants would be eligible if they were under 30 and had lived in the country for five years while earning a high school diploma or GED, or enlisting in the military. It would not be a path to citizenship, as proposed by the DREAM Act, but would grant them a two-year period in which to apply for a work permit.
U.S. guns have been widely used by Mexican drug cartels. While U.S. gun dealers aren’t supposed to sell weapons to the cartels, a lot of dealers have been selling guns to straw purchasers who smuggle the guns to the cartels. The ATF could arrest and prosecute some individual gun smuggler, but…
You can’t take it with you when you die guys. I mean – THIS IS OBSCENE. It’s just paper wealth … but paper wealth translates into power and real wealth after all. It’s going to be hard to get the torches and pitchforks when the Plutocrats have purchased all the torch and pitchfork companies. I have a brilliant idea; let’s give them all tax cuts.
Bloomberg has the story HERE:
Carlos Slim, 72, remains No. 1 in the world with a net worth of $69.1 billion. The telecommunications tycoon gained $2.55 billion in the week, as shares of his Mexico City-based wireless carrier America Movil SAB leapt 4.05 percent.
On June 21, the company disclosed it had increased its stake in Royal KPN NV, the former Dutch phone monopoly, to 21 percent, up from 8.7 percent. Slim, who agreed to acquire 21 percent of Telekom Austria AG (TKA) on June 15, is taking advantage of distressed prices in Europe to expand America Movil’s assets beyond Latin America, where it’s the biggest carrier.
Bill Gates is almost $8 billion behind Slim. The 56-year- old Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) co-founder’s fortune eked out a $256 million gain as shares of the Redmond, Washington-based company rose 2.27 percent. Microsoft unveiled its Surface tablet computer on June 18, to compete with Apple Inc. (AAPL)’s iPad. Number three on the index is Warren Buffett, 81, with a net worth of $45.7 billion.