Essay Mercantilism

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During the Napoleonic Wars, the warring governments made few attempts to prevent their foes from importing food (and thereby starving them).

But they did try to make it difficult for their opponent to export goods.

MERCANTILISM is one of the great whipping boys in the history of economics.

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.

But Mr Grampp argues that, on the whole, we should stop confusing mercantilism and bullionism.

Few mercantilists were slaves to the balance of payments.

But according to research by Lars Magnusson of Uppsala University, Smith’s contribution did not represent such a sharp break.

The father of economics was certainly concerned with the effects of some mercantilist policies.

It is often said that a better understanding of economic history would have helped us to avoid the worst of the recent crisis.

Over the next few weeks Free exchange will consider milestones in economic history, showing how they contributed to the development of economic thought.


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