From Adam Smith and the Industrial Revolution to Wall Street and multinational corporations, capitalism has emerged as one of the world's leading economic systems. This work traces the evolution of capitalism from its roots in medieval Europe's rigid economy, through the laissez faire abuses of the nineteenth century, to its contemporary form as shaped by competition with socialism. Covering the period from 1450 to the present, this work examines significant laws, government policies, treaties, events, concepts, and people. Entries include Federal Reserve System, Great Depression (1929-1939), International Monetary Fund, Privatization Revolution, Refeudalization, and Welfare State. Written clearly and concisely for the general reader, each entry gives historical facts and social context, not only defining the term itself, but clarifying and describing how it influenced and shaped the economic, political, and social fabric of society at large. Each entry also includes cross-references to related terms and bibliographic citations. An introduction, a comprehensive bibliography, and a subject index complete this work.