Historical economies

Incomes have risen per capita globally, since 500 B.C.



What happened in 1000 A.D. that caused it to go up a little? 

I don’t entirely know. What I do know the Islamic World was in its Golden Age, Europe was in the Middle Ages, and Rome was the most powerful state in the world. Maybe that had something to do with it.

What happened in 1300 A.D. that caused it to dip and then go back up?

Again, I don’t know completely, but these are the things that I do know happened around that time: the Mongol Empire, the High Middle Ages, the black plague, and the end of serfdom and the beginning of capitalism. So probably the black plague, which killed 30%-50% of the population.

What happened in 1900 A.D. that caused it to go up so drastically?


Here’s a look at different estimates of the human population 100,000 years before the present.


What happened around 8,000 years ago? Civilization!

What changed at around 5,000 years ago? The first recorded revolutions AND imperialism!

Paleolithic era (estimated 3.3 million years ago-10,000 BC)

Humans were made up of small kin groups. The global population was between 1 and 15 million, in comparison to the 7 billion we have now. The average world GDP per capita was $158 per year (adjusted to 2013 dollars) and did not rise very much until the Industrial Revolution in 1760-ish.

Mesolithic era (estimated 20,000 BC-9,500 BC)

This was the end of the last glacial period. There was slow domestication of plants and animals, as well as small settled communities.

Neolithic era (estimated 10,200 BC-2,000 BC)

Trade and exchange began among neighboring tribes because tribes specialized in different things, and traded what they were most efficient at. The first money was probably cattle. In fact, I think the word money comes from the word for cattle. The first commodity money existed, so for example shell jewelry in the form of strung beads. For distribution and organization of scarce resources, humans relied on tradition, community cooperation, and/or top-down command.

Early money, money cowry:


Antiquity or Bronze and Iron ages (3,300 BC-800 AD)

City states developed at this time. Sumer, modern day Southern Iraq, developed a market economy and their money was shekels, a certain weight measure of barley. They also had the first written financial laws such as interest rates, fines as punishment for a crime, inheritance, taxes, and division of land.

Temples were the first creditors, in Sumer. They charged interest and rent, as well as, doing business with debt and making profit. This was probably the first legal profit-seeking trade. A temple!

GDP per capita (PPP) globally since 1 AD-2015 AD

In 1 AD, the highest GDP per capita (PPP) in 1990 dollars, was Italy with $809 per person in the population annually. By 1,000 AD, it was Italy again but with less, $450 per person in the population annually.

Strangely enough, in 1 AD, the poorest countries were the Scandinavian countries with $400 per person in the population annually and it stayed like that until 1500 AD. It’s strange because now, Scandinavia is around #15 on the list of GDP per capita income as of 2015, with about $47,000. To put it in perspective, the U.S. is #11, at $55,000. Compare that with the wealthiest population in 1 AD, Italy, making $850 as your annual income.

Classical era (476 AD-1453 AD)

India and China made up half the size of the world economy. Commerce began going long distances and nations began to trade with other nations. Denominations of gold and silver coins were first introduced in Lydia, modern day Turkey. The first economists began to write their thoughts on things such as scarcity of resources.

The first gold coins, the Lydian Lion


The Middle Ages (400 AD-1400 AD)

In the Middle Ages, there was an increase in population and trade. The silk road began trade between Europe, Central Asia, and China. Italy began the first modern accounting and finance systems. The first banknotes were used in China in 800 AD.

Early Modern era (1500 AD-1800 AD)

The Early Modern era saw the beginning of mercantilism, nationalism and international trade. It was also the end of feudalism. Europeans came to the Americas and traded between the two continents, as well as with Asia. The economic and political thought of the time was to use military to secure and protect markets and supply sources.

The Industrial Revolution (1760 AD-1840 AD)

Energy was discovered and produced in mass amounts. Right there at the tail end is the utilization of hydraulic fracking, otherwise, it peaked in 1970.


This grew the population and GDP per capita into that famous hockey stick shape.



The twentieth century (1900 AD-2000 AD)

The highest growth occurred in the 1960s during post-war reconstruction. Another contributor to the rapid growth was going from national trade to international trade. Shipping containers made it cheaper to transport good internationally.



A very brief history of the beginning of capitalism

Since capitalism began, worldwide incomes have risen to levels higher than they ever have in history.




It surprises me that people still believe capitalism has caused people to become poorer than ever in history. Pre-capitalism we had a system of feudal lords and serfs. Capitalism began in the 1300s between the monarchs and the serfs.

Everybody was poor and the further you go back, the poorer people were. We live in the wealthiest period in history, by far.

Do people who are anti-capitalism want to return to that pre-capitalist society? Certainly serfs were poorer than our poorest of today.

GDP per capita (PPP) in 1 A.D. vs 2003 A.D. (Source and Source)

The highest GDP per capita was in Italy in 1 A.D. $800. That’s right, $800 per person for a whole year. That’s in 1990 dollars. Not 1 A.D. dollars.

Japan had the lowest GDP per capita of $400 per year. $400. The U.S. was also $400 annually but this was before Europeans came over and screwed up the place for everyone.

Now, the highest GDP per capita in 2003, was the U.S. with $29,037. Keep in mind this is 1990 dollars AND in 2003. It’s much higher now. As of 2016, it has almost doubled, and is at $55,805.

The lowest GDP per capita in 2003 was in Africa, $1,549 annually. That is appalling and we should do everything in our power to raise the standard of living in Africa, but also, in comparison to 1 A.D. number, Africa is still twice as better off than the wealthiest country, Italy, in 1 A.D.

So enough about how great the world could be without capitalism. We know what the world was like without capitalism. Would you want to live in it again?

Pre-capitalism: serfdom

Serfs performed self-sustenance labor, which would look like farming to provide just enough food for themselves. There was little technological innovation because there was no competition to incentivize it. (Source) Serfs were paid by getting to live on their land and having a house. They still had to pay rent and when they did get money from their lords, it was salt or small pieces of gold OR none at all.

“Because serfs had obligations to produce for lords, they had no interest in technological innovation; because serfs produced to sustain their own families, they had no interest in co-operating with one another.” (Source)

That is why technological innovation was stagnant.

Then agricultural productivity reached it’s technological limitations and stopped growing, they had a famine, and the black death led to a population decline, and as a result, a decline in labor. (Source)


The feudal lords decided to spend all their money on war, which is expensive, so they taxed the serfs.


In a panic, Nobles competed to find enough serfs so their estates could be kept up. The nobles began trading human beings for wages, which encouraged people to move to towns that were offering to pay wages, rather than just earn their keep.

As a result, the population grew.

In England, the serfs rebelled and started buying out their landlords’ land, which they accepted because they were desperate for cash.

Serfs began a more capitalist system in the form of landlord-tenant relationships over land. If they made enough money, then they could actually buy the land.

I think the serfs rising up after the famine TOTALLY proves my point that people only overthrow their government if they are hungry.

Anyway, so that’s what led to the collapse of the manorial system and ushered in mercantilism. That’s what led to the beginning of investment in new technologies and a burst of discoveries, especially in the field of agriculture. This led to the marketplace, where the serfs could sell their shit.


Towns began to trade, and when towns had similar goods, they would compete for money, lowering their prices as a result, and more people could afford what they were selling.


What’s the best way to acquire wealth? To steal it, right? Get it for free.

But actually, this doesn’t lead to the greatest wealth creation. Under colonization, countries would go to war with other regions, and strip them of their resources.

One of the problems, besides the destruction of human beings lives, as well as their cultures and civilizations, in the worst, most inhumane ways; is it actually wasn’t that profitable. Machines became more profitable than free human labor.

So for a while at least, slavery was profitable, just not as profitable as industrialism.

Industrial capitalism

Adam Smith was the one who initially noted that mercantilism was not the development creator that the world thought it was. He believed it was a continuation of the feudal system and keeping the world from advancement. His influential book An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations wrote on paper what we now read in our economics textbooks in school on what is now capitalism.

With capitalism and industrialization, technological discoveries were developed rapidly. For the first time in history, the poorest people could become wealthier without being born into it. It was the first time poor people COULD become wealthy, and wealthier than their feudal lords, nobles, and banking families. It was the first time in history that could benefit levels of society besides the noble class. It reduced the class system that was stringently in place previously.

Corporatism and punishment for crimes in America

Capitalist greed, is what everyone thinks was the sole cause of the 2007 financial crisis. It was a big part of the blame, and that’s undeniable, but also, who is giving out the permits and punishing the financial industry, that makes billions with a hundred million in fines?

This is an amazing infographic of the largest corporate fines and settlements since 2007


The largest corporate fine in U.S. history goes to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill in 2010. BP was fined 110% of their income, $4.5 billion.

I remember this when it came out. It was all over the news when the spill happened and I remember the public wanted blood. It involved the sinking of an oil rig, which spilled oil for 87 days. 11 people went missing.11 people went missing. It was “sealed” in 2010, however, reports in 2012 said the oil rig was STILL leaking. The cause was defective cement on the rig, done by Halliburton, which received a punishment of $1.1 billion. One of the government’s favorite corporations to give contracts to without competition. Who “lost” $23 billion from Iraq. No punishment. They’re the ones who got to steal all of the oil from Iraq by building oil “infrastructure”.

Regardless of Halliburton being the cause, BP was punished more.

In contrast, the Exxon mobile spill? Their fine was 1% of their income.

This is not capitalism like many people believe. This is pure corporatism, which is not the same. Capitalism includes competition. Corporatism is when government gives special privileges to businesses and in return, businesses give kickbacks to the government.

Who is getting all their campaign money from the financial industry?

The status quo politicians that the people keep voting into power over and over, who are incumbents because they watch the news, and the news skews the headlines to achieve their political aims and biases.

And nobody pays attention to the rest of the article.

They see the headlines and it puts ideas in their head that are really just catchy click bait but it’s TV and magazines too.

That’s my hypothesis anyway.

Peak oil and why we’re not going to colonize Mars

I don’t think space travel will ever get to the point of colonizing Mars, because oil is eventually going to get a whole lot more expensive due to the aggregate production rate of oil fields, not oil depletion, which it is often confused with.

The world has a high dependence on oil. It used for transport, agricultural and industrial systems. (Beyond Oil: The View from Hubbert’s Peak by Deffeyes, Kenneth S.)

We have 50% of the oil left, but it gets more and more expensive to extract to get the rest of it, meaning the price will have to go up and up. Hydraulic fracking has bought us some time, however. That’s why there’s that peak again at the end of the graph.


Fracking has been performed worldwide on oil, half of which have been done in the U.S.

Also, it’s probably terrible for the environment. It possibly causes: “ground and surface water contamination, air and noise pollution, and triggering earthquakes.” (Source)