Post-war Period

continued from » 1914-1945

After the Great Depression and two world wars, the economy recovered slowly so that global networking was not an option first, instead two blocks had been built: On the one hand, there was the USSR with its socialist planned economy, and on the other hand, there was the USA with its capitalism. (cf. Neiberger 2010, p.7)

After World War Two, the US gained more and more power worldwide (three fifth of the global industry in the US) due to the fact that their rivals were in ruins.

Federal Chancellor of Germany - L. Erhard

During the post-war time, due to the Marshall Plan (big economic program to help Europe and Japan recover) US corporations went abroad to rebuild Europe and Japan. Thanks to the US and in particular to the Marshall Plan, there had been two ‘miracles’: in Germany and in Japan.

Germany was divided into two parts (until 1989): the west was under control of the US, Great Britain and France, while the East was under control of the USSR. In the West, there was an industrial legacy because of refugees and labor surplus. The US investment helped a lot to change the country in good way. The Marshall Plan, the US Army and private capital from America rebuild this country and the American influence turned Germany into a democracy. Germany became one of Europe’s most important markets.


Japan’s miracle (jap.: Nihon no kiseki) occurred later but faster (early 1960s). Its growth rate was like China’s in the 21st century. There was an industry revival in Japan. The US helped Japan recover after World War Two, just like Germany.

After/during these developments, the three power nations of the global north had been the US, Germany and Japan. In 1950, they made 60% of the world output, in 1994 66%.

How did the miracles happen, and why?

Both countries had been built up from the ruins including rebuilt capacity, knowledge and skills as well as surplus labor and low wages. These countries had been built up on the best technology (from the US) and on new conditions. They had been under the US military “umbrella” what led to double digit growth rates in the 1950s and 1960s. The US occupation “cleaned their houses” meaning old elites had been eliminated and new political systems had been introduced.

The breakdown of the USSR implied the breakdown of the bipolar world system, and the world developed in direction of globalization. (cf. Neiberger 2010, p.7)