This summer I read “The Penguin History of the World”. “The entire story of human endeavour laid out in all its grandeur and folly, drama and pain in a single authoritative book”.

Conor’s World History in 1 Paragraph

World history 9000BC to Today:

The life of the poor was shit under every civilisation. It was short, dangerous, local, painful and dependant. Greek peasant life was bad under Sparta, Athens, Macedon. Roman peasant life was bad. Indian peasant life was bad under Indian rulers, under Mongol rulers, under British rulers. Chinese peasant life was bad under every empire. Russian peasant life was bad under Mongols, Muscovy Princes, Tsars. There were very few wealthy people. Most of the world has always been very poor. Tax systems extracted everything leaving only enough for peasants to not die. Tax was extracted to pay for palaces, rarely improvements in infrastructure.

8 Lessons from World History

The earliest written records are cave paintings from 65,000 years ago. The earliest written culture is 9000 years ago (7000 BC Sumer & Mesopotamia). (History can only begin when we have written records, otherwise it is just guesswork.)

  1. Civilisation rises and civilisation falls: there have been major losses of technology over the last 17,000 years. (This was something of a surprise to me as I realised that I had an untested assumption that innovations don’t disappear from civilisation).
  2. Geography matters a lot. The physical location and terrain of a nation shapes the people. Ireland, Britain, Japan – island nations.
  3. Agriculture allowed wealth creation. Agriculture allowed population growth and the first wealthy individuals (kings, emperors). A king without wealth will soon not be king.
  4. Fragile: Until 1500AD most empires, kingdoms, cities were only 1 or 2 poor harvests away from collapse.
  5. We need a common enemy An Empire without a common enemy will collapse from internal divisions (Rome, Mongols). A common enemy can create an empire or a nation (Greeks vs Persians, France vs England)
  6. Absolute power is the norm The separation of church and state, and limitations on political power are not common. Absolute monarchy that unites political, military and religious power is extremely common.
  7. Guttenberg changed everything. The availability of the printed word changed how we live more than any other change in history. How will the internet & AI change the next 1000 years?
  8. I like my life: I would prefer to be me than any Pharaoh, King, Emperor, Pope, Tsar of the last 17,000 years. The Sword of Damocles is real. (I would prefer to be king than peasant, but that is a different comparison).

The Penguin History of the World

The entire story of human endeavour laid out in all its grandeur and folly, drama and pain in a single authoritative book.

J.M. Roberts, CBE, published The Penguin History of the World in 1976 to immediate acclaim.

Odd Arne Westad, FBA, is Professor of International History at the London School of Economics.

Here’s the book The Penguin History of the World on amazon.

Professor Nuria Mas recently delivered a session on the Global Economic Outlook at IESE Business School.  Lets look at what’s going to happen to the global economy over the next 30 years.

Here’s the summary in bullet points and some photos of the key slides.

The Global Economic Outlook to 2050

  • US and Europe are going from 50% of world GDP to 25% in 2045; China and India will make up almost 50% of World GDP by 2045.
  • The western middle classes are the only major population category that has seen no improvement in GDP per capital over last 30 years; most poor grew 17%, 50 percentile grew 76%, richest 1% grew 65%
  • USA is first ever nation with increasing GDP and reducing life expectancy- major reductions in life expectancy are white 45-55 years old.
  • The biggest likelihood & impact (can damage people & institutions) major events are climate events, and cyberattacks.
  • 9000 net new babies born every hour. Mostly in Asia.  (15,000 born, 6,000 die;  Europe’s contribution is 182 babies net per hour… that leaves 8,818 from other parts of the world)
  • Unfunded liabilities are huge in western economies
  • Major job losses are on the middle income jobs.
  • It is not globalization but technology (job automation) that is leading to the loss of middle class jobs in advanced societies
  • USA, Japan, Germany have lots of debt; but they owe most of it to themselves. Spain owes 86% of its debt to foreigners. Ireland’s total debt is 7x it’s GDP.

Some of the Data & Graphs from the Event:

India and China are growing to become 50% of the world GDP by 2045.

Here’s those 9,000 net new lives per hour.  You can see the areas with major population growth coming in the next 30 years, and the areas that will not see population growth.

The Economic centre of gravity is moving east… to rest between India and China.

The 2 major world risks are Climate (all the green dots) and Cyberattacks (the purple dot).

Job losses in western societies have been predominantly on mid-level skilled jobs.  High skilled work and no-skilled work have not been affected as drastically.

US – rising mortality even as GDP per capita is rising.  This has never happened before.

There’s lots of debt out there.  It is more complex than this graph, but the next generation will be shouldered with lots of debts made for this generation.

Is your job at risk?  Recreational therapists, Dentists and Athletic trainers low risk of automation.  Retail salespeople, accountants and telemarketers will almost certainly be replaced by technology.

The 3 best paid, least vulnerable jobs are CEO, doctor and dentist.  

That’s the next 30 years.  Are you ready for the changes?