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William Bernstein has argued pretty well that the growth of economies over the long term has held pretty stable over (surprisingly) the last several hundred years. See his book, "The Birth of Plenty": https://www.amazon.com/Birth-Plenty-Prosperity-Modern-Create...

The keys to economic growth he identifies are (1) property rights, (2) scientific rationalism, (3) capital markets, and (4) adequate transportation/communication. All of these appeared in sufficient form for prosperous growth several hundred years ago.

There is of course no guarantee of continued growth at same rate as last several hundred years. But given the conditions that have prevailed it has settled at a fairly stable rate as sort of a natural law.




He missed out (5) Abundant fossil fuels.


This is the real cause of economic growth. The Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China industrialized at only a slightly slower rate then the West, despite not having much in the way of property rights or capital markets.

Without two hundred years of unsustainable consumption of fossil fuels, property rights or capital markets wouldn't have given us a fraction of the economic growth that we got. Stock exchanges don't do much for you when 97% of your population are either subsistance peasants, or make hand-crafted tools used by subsistance peasants, and you have to spend 8 hours a day banging rocks together to stay warm and to scare away mountain lions.

#4 is also only possible because of #5.




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