History of the world economy|
Date: Sat, 25 Nov 1995 21:37:03 -0500
Sender: H-NET List for World History <H-WORLD@msu.edu>
From: "Patrick Manning, Northeastern University" <MANNING@neu.edu>
Subject: Asian-based world economy
Asian-based world economy
By Patrick Manning, Northeastern University,
25 November, 1995
Gunder Frank's excerpt from his forthcoming study,
asserting the dominance of an Asian-based world economy until
about 1815, provides the sort of lively and iconoclastic analysis
we have come to expect from his fertile keyboard. While we will
have to wait to scrutinize the details, his circulation of this
excerpt invites questions. Here are mine: they both address
the internal mechanism of the Asian economy.
- What was the structure of this Asian-based world
economy? I find credible the notion of a concentration of Asian
wealth, 1400-1800, and I find equally credible the notion of
significant Asian capital accumulation and industrial production.
(I'm a bit more cautious about the notion of high productivity,
mostly because it's defined differently with regard to labor, land,
capital.) But I'm curious as to whether the Asian-based world
economy had a structure analogous to those proposed for the
European-based world economy by Frank, Wallerstein and others.
In particular, was there an Asian center, and did it depend on its
peripheries in the same way as the European system?
- Did precious-metal imports serve to sustain or
undercut the Asian-based world economy? The empirical issue of
large-scale imports of silver and gold into Asia seems resolved
in general. Frank has added to this the judgment that Europeans,
in carrying these metals to Asia, found their point of entry
into Asian trade. But were the silver and gold a cause of
Asian economic strength, a reflection of that strength, or a
brake on accumulation and growth?