In this paper I sketch the contours of a research program which draws on the insights of both institutionalist theories of long term economic change and world system analysis in order to analyze the many ways in which national and global inequalities interact. While the political economy approach developed in the research program of Acemoglu and Robinson has provided important insights on the relationship between national inequalities and economic growth, world system analysis focuses on interactions and asymmetries in the global economic and political system and their effects on national trajectories. On the one hand, I propose ways to make national institutions endogenous to international economic and political interaction via the influences these may have on national inequalities. The key to this discussion is the realization that the impact of international economic interaction on domestic distribution may be changed significantly, even in sign, if rights are weakly enforced and “grabbing” type redistributive activities are ubiquitous, especially inside and by the state. On the other hand, I explore the gains from looking at the world system as an institutional system, applying ideas developed by Acemoglu and Robinson, and North, Wallis and Weingast to analyze inequalities and asymmetries in countries to the entire globe. Here, both the question of whether a global elite coalition is to be defined as a group of countries or as a network of global elites in states, business and media and the question of how the international institutional order limits access to global political and economic resources are central.