Nogal C. Á. (2006) Transferring Spanish cash to 17th-century Flanders

September 8, 2009

Nogal, Carlos Álvarez (2006) “La transferencia de dinero a Flandes en el siglo XVII” in Banca, Crédito y Captial. La Monarquía Hispánica y los antiguos Países Bajos (1505-1700), eds. Carmen Sanz Ayán and Bernardo J. García García, Madrid: Fundación Carlos de Amberes, 204-231.

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From 1567 to 1586, the Spanish Crown sent some 1.5m. ducats annually to Flanders; by 1608 this figure was reaching 3.5m. To do that, the king had to rely on Genoese intermediaries that could provide credit in Antwerp while being paid in Spain. But how exactly did the bankers manage to transfer that much money around war-torn Europe? (p.205) Financiers have often been accused to unduly charge the monarchy enormous fees for their service, but how much exactly did this service cost the bankers themselves? Read the rest of this entry »


Drelichman M. and Voth H.-J. (2008) Was Golden Age Spain cursed?

July 6, 2009

Drelichman, Mauricio and Voth, Hans-Joachim (2008) “Institutions and the Resource Curse in Early Modern Spain”, in Helpman, Elhanan; ed. Institutions and Economic Performance, Cambridge, Ma: Harvard University Press, 34p.

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This paper is available here (pdf).


During the late 16th and 17th century, the Spanish crown defaulted several times on its debts, growth was sluggish and population eventually shrank (p.4). The cause of this failure has been known for a while: the ‘resource curse’, or in other words, the “undesirable economic outcomes associated with natural resources abundance”.

The most famous of these symptoms has been called the ‘Dutch disease’. In that case, the resource-oriented sector of the economy attracts in priority the production factors, thus depleting the innovation-rich manufactory sector and making the country dependant on import, thus deteriorating the terms of trade (p.5). Read the rest of this entry »

Munro J. (2006) A non-mercantilist approach to the balance of payment problem

March 5, 2009

Munro, John H. (2006) “South German silver, European textiles, and Venetian trade with the Levant and Ottoman Empire, c. 1370 to c. 1720: a non-Mercantilist approach to the balance of payment problem”, in Relazione economiche tra Europea e mondo islamico, seccoli XII – XVII, ed. Simonetta Cavaciocchi, Florence: Le Monnier, 905-960.


This article is available on line


For mercantilists, gold and silver are not just mediums of exchange but the most tangible form of wealth (store of value) and a country’s veritable life-blood. In their view, the economic contraction of the later 14th and 15th centuries were caused by the outflow of precious metal to the East (p.905). But according to J. H. Munro, there was no such thing as a ‘bullion famine’, at worst some “periodic scarcity of coined money” in 1320-1340, 1370-1420, and 1440-1470 (p.906). Read the rest of this entry »

Bulut M. (2002) Dutch and Ottoman commercial interactions

March 1, 2009

Bulut, Mehmet (2002) “The Role of the Ottoman and Dutch in the Commercial Integration between the Levant and Atlantic in the Seventeenth Century”, Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient, 45/2, 197-230.



Large trade volume and significant bullion transfer testify of the advanced integration between the Ottoman Empire and Europe in the early modern period (p.197). The discovery of the Cape route had gradually weakened the Ottoman position as Europe’s middleman, but by the end of the 16th century it remained significant (p.198). To replace the vanishing fiscal revenues, the Ottoman rulers granted trading privileges (the so-called capitulations) to European nations who were consequently attracted to the Levant ports. But these efforts were unable to limit the Rise of the West of which the commercial integration of the Levant and the Atlantic is a part (p.199). Read the rest of this entry »