The first big wave of embracing a liberal international economic order — relatively free trade, rising international capital flows and rapidly growing global economic integration — resulted in something remarkable.

Between 1870 and 1914, there was a 45-year span of rising living standards, stable prices, massive capital investment and prolific technological progress. In terms of overall progress, these four-plus decades have never been equaled — either before or since.

Then came the Great War. It involved a scale of total industrial mobilization and financial mayhem that was unlike any that had gone before. In the case of Great Britain, for example, its national debt increased 14-fold.