A panoply of visions regarding the economic "new world order" have followed the end of the cold war. While some foresee an increasingly globalized and borderless world, others stress the increasing importance of geography in ordering trade relations, while still others argue that economic competition among major powers will simply replace strategic interests. Such arguments all assess a common issue: the structure of global economic relations. Each argument posits a principle for the ordering of economic relations, whether preferential trading arrangements, geography, or military alliances, and provides implications for the structure. Despite the prevalence of such arguments, empirical assessments of the overall structure of the global trading order are rare, and comparative testing of alternate structures is nonexistent. It is the purpose of this study to fill this analytic gap. As such, this study has two primary goals: 1. To empirically examine the structure of the world economy, as evidenced by trading relations, and assess the relative utility of four alternate "visions" for the global trading order. 2. To examine the implications of the trading structure with regards to patterns of trade, conflict, and cooperation between countries. Results most strongly support the structure espoused by world systems analysis. © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint, part of The Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.