Price Trends of Some Basic Commodities in Central Mexico, 1531-1570

Price Trends of Some Basic Commodities in Central Mexico, 1531-1570

Price Trends of Some Basic Commodities in Central Mexico, 1531-1570

Price Trends of Some Basic Commodities in Central Mexico, 1531-1570

Excerpt

Any scholar who has read Mexican economic documents of the sixteenth century is aware that commodity prices rose steadily in Mexico during the century. The continued complaints of Spanish residents at the increasing cost of articles of prime necessity and the long series of attempts at fixing prices leave no doubt on that score. Since Mexico produced much of the flood of specie that has been identified as perhaps the most important cause of the prolonged price inflation of the sixteenth century in western and central Europe, it would have been somewhat of a miracle had the colony itself not experienced a similar upward movement of prices. But though scholars have published quantitative estimates of the rate of the price rise for various commodities and periods for many regions and countries of Europe, no such quantitative studies have yet been published for Mexico. Granted that the Spanish possession shared in the inflation, the question remains: what was the rate of upward movement -- in general, for specific periods and for specific commodities?

The present study attempts a tentative and partial answer to these questions. Its limitations must be clearly understood. It covers only the area of central Mexico, which may be defined as the region from and including the Isthmus of Tehuantepec in the south to an irregular line in the north . . .

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