All that glitters: Precious metals, rent seeking and the decline of Spain
AbstractI argue that Spain s long-term economic stagnation in the seventeenth century and beyond was the result of a process triggered by the windfall acquisition of precious metals from American mines, and driven by the consolidation of absolutist rule and the peculiar privilege structure of Spanish society in the sixteenth century. American treasure allowed the Spanish monarchs to command large amounts of credit and pursue an expansive imperial policy unlike that of any other Early Modern nation; when the cost of the Empire increased and mineral rents fell, the Crown increased the fiscal pressure while allowing skilled human capital to migrate into the tax-sheltered but largely unproductive nobility. I first provide evidence on the role of the silver windfall and the acquisition of nobility titles in the sixteenth century; of particular interest is a new data series of nobility lawsuits constructed from the population of cases housed at the Archive of the Royal Chancery Court in Valladolid. I then develop a unified theoretical framework that explains imperial policy as an optimal response given the existing institutions and the natural resource windfall, recreates the rent-seeking path followed by the Spanish Crown when mineral rents proved insufficient, and accounts for the long-term economic backwardness that Spain experienced in the following centuries as the result of an institutional lock-in.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
Bibliographic InfoArticle provided by Cambridge University Press in its journal European Review of Economic History.
Volume (Year): 9 (2005)
Issue (Month): 03 (December)
Contact details of provider:
Postal: The Edinburgh Building, Shaftesbury Road, Cambridge CB2 2RU UK
Fax: +44 (0)1223 325150
Web page: http://journals.cambridge.org/jid_EREProvider-Email:firstname.lastname@example.org
Other versions of this item:
- Mauricio Drelichman, 2004. "All that Glitters: Precious Metals, Rent Seeking and the Decline of Spain," Economic History 0404002, EconWPA.
- N1 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations
- N4 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation
- O1 - Economic Development, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Kevin M. Murphy & Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, 1990.
"The Allocation of Talent: Implications for Growth,"
NBER Working Papers
3530, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Kevin M. Murphy & Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, 1990. "The Allocation of Talent: Implicationsfor Growth," University of Chicago - George G. Stigler Center for Study of Economy and State 65, Chicago - Center for Study of Economy and State.
- Baland, Jean-Marie & Francois, Patrick, 2000. "Rent-seeking and resource booms," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(2), pages 527-542, April.
- Murphy, Kevin M & Shleifer, Andrei & Vishny, Robert W, 1993. "Why Is Rent-Seeking So Costly to Growth?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(2), pages 409-14, May.
- North, Douglass C. & Weingast, Barry R., 1989. "Constitutions and Commitment: The Evolution of Institutions Governing Public Choice in Seventeenth-Century England," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 49(04), pages 803-832, December.
- Mauricio Drelichman, 2004. "The Curse of Moctezuma: American Silver and the Dutch Disease, 1501-1650," Economic History 0404001, EconWPA.
- Asea, Patrick K. & Lahiri, Amartya, 1999. "The precious bane," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 23(5-6), pages 823-849, April.
- Torvik, Ragnar, 2002. "Natural resources, rent seeking and welfare," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(2), pages 455-470, April.
- Vidal-Robert, Jordi, 2013. "War and Inquisition: Repression in Early Modern Spain," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 118, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
- Nils-Petter Lagerlöf & Thomas Tangerås, 2008. "From rent seeking to human capital: a model where resource shocks cause transitions from stagnation to growth," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 41(3), pages 760-780, August.
- Berumen, Sergio A., 2012. "Evaluación del impacto de la política de incentivos sectoriales en el desarrollo de los municipios mineros de Castilla y León," Journal of Economics, Finance and Administrative Science, Universidad ESAN, vol. 17(33), pages 15-30.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Keith Waters).
If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.
If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.
Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.