Conclusion: A Remote and Exotic Geography

in New World Gold

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print May 2010 | ISBN: 9780226856186
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226856193 | DOI:
Conclusion: A Remote and Exotic Geography

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  • Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)


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From the sixteenth to the seventeenth centuries, Spain adopted economic policies aimed at accumulating precious metals. The Spanish crown saw an exceptional opportunity to build a rich and solid economy by conquering the Americas and exploiting the gold and silver mines of the New World, a desire based on mercantilist assumptions that a country's economic growth hinged on its capacity to enlarge its share of global wealth and overseas territory. However, advocates of mercantilism failed to see that commercial mechanisms were interconnected rather than independent. The flow of gold triggered increases in both prices and imports, resulting in higher international debt and worsening the outflow of bullion. The tight connection between the new world of finance and the New World of the Indies caused money to evolve in distinct fashion from the expansion of the monetary economy. Economic writing struggled with the financial expansion and often privileged a more traditional view of money, credit, and value. Despite their different agendas, both scholars and mercantilist authors functioned within the ideological premises of mercantilism.

Keywords: Spain; gold; New World; mercantilism; Indies; money; credit; value; prices; debt

Chapter.  1720 words. 

Subjects: Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)

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