The role of the merchant coalition in pre-modern Japanese economic development: an historical institutional analysis
AbstractThis paper analyzes the role of the merchant coalition (kabu nakama) in Japan in the eighteenth and the first half of the nineteenth century, from the standpoint of Historical Institutional Analysis (Greif). The quantitative economic history literature has made clear that sustainable economic growth based on a market economy started in Japan at the end of the eighteenth century. On the other hand, from time to time the central government (Bakufu) legislated ordinances prescribing that suits on pecuniary matters would not be accepted (Aitai Sumeshi Rei). The implication is that the public system for third-party contract enforcement was not working well. The activities of merchant coalitions substituted for public third-party enforcement in premodern Japan. Many of the merchant coalitions' codes prescribed that all of each coalition's members should suspend transaction with those who cheated any one of the members of the coalition. This was the multiple punishment strategy (MPS), as formulated by Greif. The MPS of the merchant coalition reduced incentives for the players in the market to cheat, which in turn promoted development of a market economy. It is remarkable that the Japanese merchant coalition applied the MPS not only to ordinary commodity trade, but also to the putting-out system and employment. We empirically tested the above hypothesis about the function of the coalition. In 1841, the Bakufu prohibited the coalition, intending to eliminate any monopoly. This event can be regarded as a natural experiment, suitable for an investigation into the role of the coalition. The above hypothesis implies that prohibition of the coalition lowered the performance of the market economy. This implication was examined using data on the money supply and commodity prices. As predicted by the hypothesis, we found that the growth rate of the real money supply contracted and that the efficiency of price arbitrage declined.
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.
As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.
Bibliographic InfoArticle provided by Elsevier in its journal Explorations in Economic History.
Volume (Year): 42 (2005)
Issue (Month): 2 (April)
Contact details of provider:
Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/622830
Other versions of this item:
- Tetsuji Okazaki, 2001. "The Role of the Merchant Coalition in Premodern Japanese Economic Development: An Historical Institutional Analysis," CIRJE F-Series CIRJE-F-116, CIRJE, Faculty of Economics, University of Tokyo.
- Tetsuji Okazaki, 2004. "The Role of the Merchant Coalition in Pre-modern Japanese Economic Development: An Historical Institutional Analysis," CIRJE F-Series CIRJE-F-284, CIRJE, Faculty of Economics, University of Tokyo.
- Tetsuji Okazaki, 2004. "The Role of the Merchant Coalition in Pre-modern Japanese Economic Development: An Historical Institutional Analysis," CIRJE F-Series CIRJE-F-268, CIRJE, Faculty of Economics, University of Tokyo.
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.:
- Greif, Avner, 1994. "Cultural Beliefs and the Organization of Society: A Historical and Theoretical Reflection on Collectivist and Individualist Societies," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(5), pages 912-50, October.
- Masahiko Aoki, 2001. "Toward a Comparative Institutional Analysis," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262011875, June.
- "Wakita, Shigeru", 1996. "Rational Expectations in the Rice Futures Market of Osaka, in the 18th Century," Economic Review, Hitotsubashi University, vol. 47(3), pages 238-247, July.
- Greif, Avner, 1989. "Reputation and Coalitions in Medieval Trade: Evidence on the Maghribi Traders," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 49(04), pages 857-882, December.
- Hanley, Susan B., 1983. "A High Standard of Living in Nineteenth-Century Japan: Fact or Fantasy?," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 43(01), pages 183-192, March.
- Ohkura, Takehiko & Shimbo, Hiroshi, 1978. "The Tokugawa monetary policy in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 15(1), pages 101-124, January.
- Duffy, William J. & Yamamura, Kozo, 1971. "Monetization and integration of markets in Tokugawa Japan: A spectral analysis," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 8(4), pages 395-423.
- Yamamura, Eiji, 2008. "The role of social capital in homogeneous society: Review of recent researches in Japan," MPRA Paper 11385, University Library of Munich, Germany.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Wendy Shamier).
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.