But economic growth didn't actually gear once we entered recorded history. Zoom in on those last few days and you'll see that the rate of innovation and growth continued to speed up. The world economy was ten times larger at the end of December 30 than twenty-four hours earlier, a time span bridged by the epic rule of the Egyptian pharaohs.Imperial China lasted for almost all of 31 December, during which time the Roman Empire rose and fell, and Europe then moved through the Midle Ages. Meanwhile, the size of the world economy increased in size another ten times between the start of New Year's Eve and 7:30 pm, the time Columbus discovered the Americas. Growth then bacame faster still, and the world economy grew tenfold again between 7:30 and 11:20 pm, when the First World War began.
That growth was astonishing by historical standards, but puny by the standards of the twentieth century, because in the last fourty minutes - the rest of the twentieth century - the world economy expanded yet again. If current growth rates are sustained, the next tenfold increase will be completed by about twenty-five past midnight.
(c) Tim Harford. The Logic of Life.