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The Roman Market Economy$
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Peter Temin

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780691147680

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691147680.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM PRINCETON SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.princeton.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Princeton University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in PRSO for personal use.date: 21 September 2021

The Grain Trade

The Grain Trade

Chapter:
(p.97) Chapter 5 The Grain Trade
Source:
The Roman Market Economy
Author(s):

Peter Temin

Publisher:
Princeton University Press
DOI:10.23943/princeton/9780691147680.003.0005

This chapter explores the Mediterranean wheat market. The Romans made many products, from wines to pottery and glass, but wheat was the most widely traded commodity during those times. Shipped from distant provinces, the grain changed hands many times before it reached Rome. This trade was organized by the state and private merchants who did not have the benefit of modern means of transportation or communication, and merchants faced high transaction costs from several sources. The Roman government cleared the Mediterranean of pirates in 67 BCE, reducing greatly one major source of risk for merchants. However, merchants in Rome still had to rely on potentially corrupt agents operating in faraway provinces for months at a time. This arrangement created adverse selection and moral hazard problems from the asymmetric information available to merchants and their agents.

Keywords:   Mediterranean wheat market, wheat, grain trade, private merchants, Roman government, corrupt agents, pirates

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