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Capitalism is an economic system based on the private ownership of the means of production and their operation for profit. Central characteristics of capitalism include capital accumulation, competitive markets, price systems, private property, property rights recognition, voluntary exchange, and wage labor. In a market economy, decision-making and investments are determined by owners of wealth, property, or ability to maneuver capital or production ability in capital and financial markets—whereas prices and the distribution of goods and services are mainly determined by competition in goods and services markets.

Economists, historians, political economists, and sociologists have adopted different perspectives in their analyses of capitalism and have recognized various forms of it in practice. These include laissez-faire or free-market capitalism, anarcho-capitalism, state capitalism and welfare capitalism. Different forms of capitalism feature varying degrees of free markets, public ownership, obstacles to free competition and state-sanctioned social policies. The degree of competition in markets and the role of intervention and regulation as well as the scope of state ownership vary across different models of capitalism. The extent to which different markets are free and the rules defining private property are matters of politics and policy. Most of the existing capitalist economies are mixed economies that combine elements of free markets with state intervention and in some cases economic planning.

Capitalism in its modern form emerged out of agrarianism in 16th century England and mercantilist practices by European countries in the 16th to 18th centuries. The Industrial Revolution of the 18th century established capitalism as a dominant mode of production, characterized by factory work and a complex division of labor. Through the process of globalization, capitalism spread across the world in the 19th and 20th centuries, especially before World War I and after the end of the Cold War. During the 19th century, capitalism was largely unregulated by the state, but became more regulated in the post-World War II period through Keynesianism, followed by a return of more unregulated capitalism starting in the 1980s through neoliberalism.

Market economies have existed under many forms of government and in many different times, places and cultures. Modern industrial capitalist societies developed in Western Europe in a process that led to the Industrial Revolution. Economic growth is a characteristic tendency of capitalist economies. (Full article...)

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Norwich Market (also known as Norwich Provision Market) is an outdoor market consisting of around 200 stalls in central Norwich, England. Founded in the latter part of the 11th century to supply Norman merchants and settlers moving to the area following the Norman conquest of England, it replaced an earlier market a short distance away. It has been in operation on the present site for over 900 years.

By the 14th century, Norwich was one of the largest and most prosperous cities in England, and Norwich Market was a major trading hub. Control of, and income from, the market was ceded by the monarchy to the city of Norwich in 1341, from which time it provided a significant source of income for the local council. Freed from royal control, the market was reorganised to benefit the city as much as possible. Norwich and the surrounding region were devastated by plague and famine in the latter half of the 14th century, with the population falling by over 50%. Following the plague years, Norwich came under the control of local merchants and the economy was rebuilt. In the early 15th century, a Guildhall was built next to the market to serve as a centre for local government and law enforcement. The largest surviving mediaeval civic building in Britain outside London, it remained the seat of local government until 1938 and in use as a law court until 1985. (Full article...)

Selected biography

William Stanley Jevons FRS (/ˈɛvənz/; 1 September 1835 – 13 August 1882) was an English economist and logician. It made the case that economics as a science concerned with quantities is necessarily mathematical. Jevons' work, along with similar discoveries made by Carl Menger in Vienna (1871) and by Léon Walras in Switzerland (1874), marked the opening of a new period in the history of economic thought. Jevons' contribution to the marginal revolution in economics in the late 19th century established his reputation as a leading political economist and logician of the time.

Jevons broke off his studies of the natural sciences in London in 1854 to work as an assayer in Sydney, where he acquired an interest in political economy. Returning to the UK in 1859, he published General Mathematical Theory of Political Economy in 1862, outlining the marginal utility theory of value, and A Serious Fall in the Value of Gold in 1863. For Jevons, the utility or value to a consumer of an additional unit of a product is inversely related to the number of units of that product he already owns, at least beyond some critical quantity.

It was for The Coal Question (1865), in which he called attention to the gradual exhaustion of the UK's coal supplies, that he received public recognition, in which he put forth what is now known as the Jevons paradox, i.e. that increases in energy production efficiency leads to more not less consumption. The most important of his works on logic and scientific methods is his Principles of Science (1874), as well as The Theory of Political Economy (1871) and The State in Relation to Labour (1882). Among his inventions was the logic piano, a mechanical computer. (Full article...)

Selected quote

The gradual transformation of a rigidly organized hierarchic system into one where men could at least attempt to shape their own life, where man gained the opportunity of knowing and choosing between different forms of life, is closely associated with the growth of commerce. From the commercial cities of northern Italy the new view of life spread with commerce to the west and north, through France and the southwest of Germany to the Low Countries and the British Isles, taking firm root wherever there was no despotic political power to stifle. In the Low Countries and Britain it for a long time enjoyed its fullest development and for the first time had an opportunity to grow freely and to become the foundation of the social and political life of these countries. And it was from there that in the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries it again began to spread in a more fully developed form to the West and East, to the New World and to the center of the European continent, where devastating wars and political oppression had largely submerged the earlier beginnings of a similar growth.
— Frederick Hayek (1899 – 1992)
The Road to Serfdom , 1944

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Capitalism .. Private property .. Capitalist mode of production .. Laissez-faire .. Ludwig Von Mises .. Murray N. Rothbard .. Economic freedom .. Adam Smith .. Money .. Ronald Reagan .. American capitalism .. Criticisms of socialism .. Patent .. The Wealth of Nations .. Corporate capitalism .. Democratic capitalism .. Milton Friedman

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