The process of economic globalization has created a new entity in the dominion of economic phenomena: the world economic system. In this essay we have tried to give a scientific answer to the question 'What is the world economy?' by proposing mechanisms which generate all the phenomena involved in that question. We have adopted an enactive perspective, and we have taken the Theory of Autopoiesis applied to social systems as our main methodological frame of reference, along with some contributions from Evolutionary Institutionalism. Thus, we have been able to conclude that, for us as observers, the world economy, as world economic system, is a social system: which arose spontaneously, when the conditions for it occurred, as a final consequence of the will of the human beings who compose the system; which has the capacity to self-regulate, thanks to institutions and continuous decisions by innumerable agents who have a specific ideology as reference; and the evolution of which depends on the capacity of these self-regulation mechanisms to neutralize disturbances while never losing the capitalist identity of the system (although ideological changes are sometimes necessary).