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Chapter Four. At the Crossroads: Defining California through the Global Economy

Richard A. Walker

Subject Economics, History

Place Northern America » United States of America

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405161831.2008.00005.x


California has been globalized from the moment the European empires cast covetous eyes on the west coast of North America, and the state's economy has been deeply engaged with global trade, production, and finance since before the Gold Rush. It is not possible to tell the story of California's economic development without connecting it to the rest of the world. At the same time, an exaggerated notion of contemporary globalization runs the risk of eliding certain realities of history and geography. Therefore, the narrator of the state's economic history must be cognizant of the following puzzles of handling time and place. The first thing to be alert to is the multifaceted nature of globalization ( Dicken 2007 ). While much beloved of economists, trade (commodity flows) is the barest measure. One must be attentive to finance (capital flows), migration (labor flows), and production linkages (complex divisions of labor), as well as business ties through multinational corporations and alliances, and, conversely, competition with foreign companies. One must also account for technological connections, such as the import of machinery and export of new ideas. In this sense, California is suspended from a global web made up of Asian food markets and computer assembly, British and Japanese investment, Asian and Latin immigration, Indonesian and Venezuelan oil, and technologies of nuclear ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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