State action, an essential feature of the mercantile system, was used to accomplish its purposes. The school, which dominated European thought between the 16th and 18th centuries, is now considered no more than a historical artefact—and no self-respecting economist would describe themselves as mercantilist. The logic of mercantilism makes trade a zero-sum transaction in which exporters have an advantage over importers. The ships had to be manned by crews composed of British seamen. The nation would produce everything its people needed and buy nothing from foreign nations -- thus the idea of the trade deficit.
Mercantilism was the economic philosophy underlying early European colonial policy. Smith argued that the theory of the positive balance of trade was only a thin veil covering the special interest of the mercantile and trade class, which opted for protection from the state. Even when free trade was adopted in one area it sometimes proved to be a powerful inducement for protection in another, and the languages of these different systems mingled in the mouths of political writers and policymakers. The profit would come from the fact that the buyer —Spain, , or other countries —would not only pay England for its raw materials, but also for its laborers. Earlier German historicists such as and 1789—1846 argued that the core of mercantilism consisted of dirigist the term for state regulative policies ideas propounding the active role of the state in economic modernization and growth. Although many of the French economists were connected to the world of imperial administration, Baron Turgot urged to contemplate an unimperial future, calling for the West Indian sugar islands to become independent states, connected to France only by the bonds of identity of origin, language, and customs.
From onward the view has been repeated that the mercantilist writers confused money with wealth. They wanted to make more stuff, not sit on mountains of metal. However according to Michael porter these theories are no longer important. Ricardo expanded this theory to the concept of comparative advantage which is explained in terms of opportunity cost. The system was based on the understanding that a nation's wealth and power were best served by increasing exports and collecting precious metals, such as gold and silver. This view of mercantilism as a policy of rent seeking developed by special interests has in recent times been further elaborated by economists inspired by positive and public choice theory, especially Robert E.
Raw materials are always cheaper than finished products. In the bulk of this literature these two goals were looked upon as identical. Colonies would benefit founding countries by supplying the large amounts of necessary for a productive manufacturing sector. It advocated that a nation should export more than it imported and accumulate bullion especially gold to make up the difference. The Shaping of an Economic Language. As a school of thought mercantilism is highly associated with specie gold and silver currency. Exports from the colonies had to be shipped by the British through Great Britain, forcing the costs of American products higher.
Half of the copperware, ironware, glassware, earthenware, silk goods, printed cotton, and flannel that England exported went to British America. He uses easy-to-understand terms and clear illustrations. The colonies provided rum, cotton and other products heavily demanded by imperialists in Africa. In , ruled 1509 —1547 and ruled 1558 —1603 adhered to some mercantilist principles in an effort that was, at least in part, designed to combat the threat of universal Habsburg Monarchy and Iberian dominance in the developing world market economy. Pombal: Paradox of the Enlightenment.
Some even tried to stop the export of any gold or silver. The means to achieve that objective are often questionable. They argued that the real bitterness among American colonists after 1763 was aimed at British customs and revenue collectors, stamp officials, and enforcement agents. Land and Freedom describes how mercantilist policies encouraged the colonists to specialize in the production of raw materials rather than the manufacture of goods. In the old days, gold or silver was physically shipped from country to country to balance the books.
Although it began as a rather vague collection of economic ideas, it was continually refined, elaborated, and modified over time. The southern colonies came closest to the ideal since they produced rice and tobacco for export and imported consumer goods from other colonies and England. Economics economics Also called: mercantile system a theory prevalent in Europe during the 17th and 18th centuries asserting that the wealth of a nation depends on its possession of precious metals and therefore that the government of a nation must maximize the foreign trade surplus, and foster national commercial interests, a merchant marine, the establishment of colonies, etc. The basic idea behind the economic doctrine mainly set from the 16th to late-18th centuries was that the amount of wealth in the world is a constant and therefore countries, in order … to succeed financially, had to garner all the riches they could into their own hands in any means possible. This was an effort to prevent Dutch domination of the seas. It entered its decline as a dominant philosophy in the 19th century. In some sense the Keynesian theory of underconsumption—that is, inadequate consumer demand—as a cause of recessions was presaged by mercantilist contributions.
Overzealous officers, racketeering practices, seizures, and new bonding regulations among other things were what brought hostility from colonists. It was in , however, that mercantilism found perhaps its greatest supporter in Jean-Baptiste Colbert 1619 —1683. Smith made it clear that governments would always play a part in making markets—and could not conceive of a market where the government did not play a crucial role. The development of colonies became very attractive during this era. All of these factors ensured that the rising late medieval and early modern states embraced mercantilism as an economic theory that allowed them to adapt to and seek to exploit these shifting structures. Great Britain was not alone in this line of thinking. He also tried to unify internal tolls, something accomplished only in 1753.