The Modern Capitalist World Economy: A Historical Overview

Jeffry A. Frieden

in The Oxford Handbook of Capitalism

Published in print April 2012 | ISBN: 9780195391176
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

The Modern Capitalist World Economy: A Historical Overview


This article presents a historical overview of the modern capitalist economy. Capitalist economic activities are of very long standing—some would say they were present in proliferation during Roman times. By the late medieval and early modern period, large areas of Western Europe had thriving, relatively free markets for labor and capital, both in the city and in the countryside. We can most fruitfully and confidently speak of the full flowering of modern capitalism once it became a truly international economic order. That epoch evolved over the course of the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries, as capitalism expanded from a limited Western European base to affect much of the world, from the Americas to East Asia.

Keywords: capitalism; capitalist system; history; free market; international economic order

Article.  9804 words. 

Subjects: Economics ; Economic History

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