NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

The Cambridge History of "Capitalism"

Peter Temin

NBER Working Paper No. 20658
Issued in November 2014
NBER Program(s):Development of the American Economy

This review essay of the two-volume Cambridge History of Capitalism (2014), edited by Larry Neal and Jeffrey G. Williamson, is divided into three parts. First, I describe three chapters from the second volume that I recommend for all economists to add depth to their understanding of the world economy today. Robert C. Allen analyzes the world distribution of income; Randall Morck and Bernard Yeung discuss the history of business groups; and Peter Lindert surveys private and public programs to help the poor. In each case, they analyze historical backgrounds that illuminate current issues. Second, I criticize the definition of capitalism used in these volumes as too expansive to be useful. I argue that this definition mars the essays in first volume by stimulating a fruitless search for capitalism in the millennium before the Industrial Revolution. Third, I describe the essays in this reference work starting from the most recent and ending with those about antiquity.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w20658

Published: Peter Temin, 2015. "The Cambridge History of “Capitalism”," Journal of Economic Literature, vol 53(4), pages 996-1016.

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