twentieth century experienced many changes in the world’s economies over the
course of its decades. In Commanding Heights, authors Daniel Yergin and Joseph
Stanislaw, illustrate the changes after the collapse of the Soviet Union and
what followed suite–countries turned away from state-controlled economies to free
market economies. Communism and socialism were prevalent in countries across Europe
along with the Soviet Union and China, while the rest of the world was in
various stages governance. By the mid-century, it was beginning to seem as
centralized controlled governments such as communism and fascism, we bound to
be the way of the future.

In the early 1900s, the Russian Revolution resulted in a different type of
model to market capitalism. As the Great Depression ensued in the 1930’s people
lost faith in the markets. By the late 1940’s the market was unpredictable across
the globe. Extreme inflation in certain countries caused many issues. In
Germany, the middle class was affected the most–people’s money almost became
valueless overnight and Hitler capitalized on this. Extreme inflation caused a
sense of anxiousness and fear, so people became vulnerable to Hitler’s
rhetoric. This was one of his most important reasons as to why he was able to
get the masses to follow him over time.
There were many key figures that emerged over the decades that played important
roles. Two very important economists with contrasting views, John Maynard
Keynes from Britain and Friedrich von Hayek from Austria, introduced their own
theories during the Great Depression era. Keynes championed capitalism stating
that is was a good economic system because created a positive business cycle–businesses
employee people, people generate income, then they spend money based on income
and put it back into the economy. Friedrich von Hayek defended the concept of
liberalism and believed that government spending was not the way for economic growth,
but rather private investment was the way to maintain sustainable economic

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As the 1970s approached, government dominated economies were stagnating. Another
key figured that emerged was the first elected woman Prime Minister of Great
Britain, Margaret Thatcher. She played a vital role recuperating the market economy
by reducing government’s role which in turn allowed the market to positively
resurface. Thatcher was also a key figure, along with Ronald Regan, in ending the
Cold War.

Commanding Heights ends by stating that there is no guarantee of permanent
market stability. There are too many constant challenges such as the ever-growing
gap between the rich and the poor, environmental concerns, the rise of older
populations, and the never-ending cultural differences that exist across the


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