Politicized Economies: Monarchy, Monopoly, and Mercantilism

Politicized Economies: Monarchy, Monopoly, and Mercantilism

Politicized Economies: Monarchy, Monopoly, and Mercantilism

Politicized Economies: Monarchy, Monopoly, and Mercantilism

Synopsis

In this highly readable analysis, the authors use positive-economics principles to show how the supply and demand of monopoly rights from the state (rent seeking) provided first the impetus for European mercantilism and later the reasons for its demise in England and entrenchment in France. The balance-of-trade objective, treated by most historians as a primary motive for mercantilism, is shown instead to be the by-product of self-interested parties' seeking of rents.

In addition to questions of the causes and results of economic regulation, this thoughtful book raises issues in the methodology of economic history and history of thought generally. Public-choice theorists, political economists, and economic policy makers will likewise find it instructive and stimulating.

Excerpt

The sentiments of modern mercantilists could not be more apparent in the arena of world nations. Cyclical waves of internal and external regulation, protection, and political-bureaucratic provisions of all kinds continue to punctuate contemporary Western economies, just as they are features of third world developments. But these fin de siècle manifestations of "mercantilism" had their roots in policies and institutions of half a millennium ago.

More than a decade and a half has passed since our first foray into the questions posed by these institutions of "historical mercantilism." In our initial study--Mercantilism as a Rent-Seeking Society: Economic Regulation in Historical Perspective (1981)--we attempted to fill a void in the literature on the internal motivations of interest groups. Our aim was to establish a new and modern framework for evaluating changes in institutions (and institutional rigidities) over the high tide of mercantilism in England and France. In particular we sought to help "complete and establish a theory of policy and institutional change over the 'high time' of the mercantile age (1540-1640) in England, while simultaneously explaining the entrenchment of controls in the French economy." That theory used self-interested coalitions to explain changes in institutions, including political institutions, that affected economic growth. We proposed a new methodology for studying the economics of mercantile economies. Judging from the warm reception we received from this first effort, both supportive and critical, we met some success in our initial aims.

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.