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Economics in PerspectiveA Critical History$
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John Kenneth Galbraith

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780691171647

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691171647.001.0001

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The Merchants and the State

The Merchants and the State

(p.35) Chapter 4 The Merchants and the State
Economics in Perspective

John Kenneth Galbraith

Princeton University Press

This chapter focuses on the era of the merchants, the time of what is variously called merchant capitalism or mercantilism, a new and expanding world in which markets—and money—were strongly emergent. The mercantilist era lasted for 300 years, from about the middle of the fifteenth century to the middle of the eighteenth. The chapter considers various developments that were reflected in the economic attitudes and policies in the age of the merchants, including the proliferation of trade, the rise of the merchant class, the voyages of discovery to America and the Far East, and the appearance and consolidation of the authority of the modern state. It also discusses the close association between the merchant interest and the national state. Finally, it examines policies such as state intervention on behalf of industry, tariff protection, a policy on the balance of payments, and the emergence of the great modern corporation.

Keywords:   merchants, merchant capitalism, mercantilism, markets, trade, voyages of discovery, national state, tariff protection, balance of payments

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