Imagine for a moment that our 21st-century economy were transported back to the 15th century. Businesses, by and large, would be tiny by today’s standards. Most revenue would be in the form of unwieldy barter rather than standardized currency, and profits would be thin or nonexistent, making it difficult to invest in new technologies or fund growth. Guild elders, the king, and other oligarchs, not consumers or the market, would have sway over the entrepreneur and the success of his business....

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