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Back to the Dark Ages?

The chart below shows how far back in time we have to go to find a point at which a country’s share of global GDP was as low as it is now.

Only two countries are at or close to their all time historical highs – South Korea and Egypt. An economic miracle explains Korea’s performance, while Egypt’s rise to prominence is largely a function of a population explosion. Perhaps surprisingly, for all its growth China is still only back to where it was in 1862, shortly after losing the Opium Wars.

For Europe, though, the picture is universally grim. Despite talk of Germany’s economic resurgence, the country’s share of global GDP is now back to about the same level that it was at in the early 1500s.

But it could be worse. We have to go back to the 11th century to find a time when Italy was as marginal as it is now.

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