This chapter presents an overview of economic globalization between the late Middle Ages and the last quarter of the twentieth century. The emphasis is on the exchange of products and people. The text shows that economic globalization has not been a uni-linear, straightforward process but one with major turning points, ups and downs and often very different timing, causes and consequences in different parts of the world. After an introduction and some comments on economic globalization before ‘Columbus’, the text discusses developments in the early modern era; the long nineteenth century; de-globalization between the First World War and the end of the Second World War, and finally the re-globalization that began after the Second World War. Without denying the fundamental importance of geographical and technological factors in constraining and enabling intercontinental exchange the author pays special attention to the importance of power and politics as factors that led to economic integration and disintegration.
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