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11-08-2015, 16:49


In 1914 the United States, for all its industrial power, played a limited albeit expanding role in world economic affairs. It remained a debtor nation, dependent on Great Britain in particular as a source of capital. Britain and Germany as well had a greater share of international trade, and the two still dominated the markets of Latin America. The wartime years changed all that and dramatically accelerated the rise of the United States as the center of the global economy. Immediately after the outbreak of war, the British and French governments began massive importation of American goods. With Americans making few purchases from a war-torn Europe, the United States soon transformed itself from a debtor into a creditor nation, taking up the duties and privileges of lender to the world. During the course of the conflict, American business interests also moved aggressively to dominate international trade with the countries south of the Rio Grande. The physical and financial exhaustion of all the European powers—winners and losers alike—at the close of the conflict kept the United States at the center of the global economy long after the Armistice and the peace treaties had been signed.