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The globalisation of codfish and wool: Spanish-English-North American triangular trade in the early modern period

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  • Regina Grafe

Abstract

This paper analyses the transformation of two of the staple trades of the pre-modern international economy –those in wool and dried codfish– during the transition from the late medieval to the early-modern period. The development of early modern long-distance trade was subject to three major constraints: transport, balance of payments problems leading to bilateralism and the lack of credit markets. Economic history has concentrated in particular on the first of these. By contrast this paper provides new data for the wool and fish trades that create the basis for an in depth analysis of how balance of payments problems and credit restrictions could be minimised. We show that the integration of these two very different commodity trades was a clear strategy to overcome these constraints. Their integration in turn led to a de-monopolisation of pre-existing commercial networks and transformed both the supply and distribution networks of both goods. Finally, the paper analyses resulting alterations of the economic geography of these trades.

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File URL: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/22363/
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History in its series Economic History Working Papers with number 22363.

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Length: 37 pages
Date of creation: Feb 2003
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ehl:wpaper:22363

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Postal: LSE, Dept. of Economic History Houghton Street London, WC2A 2AE, U.K.
Phone: +44 (0) 20 7955 7084
Web page: http://www.lse.ac.uk/economicHistory/
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  1. Grafe, Regina, 2002. "Northern Spain between the Iberian and the Atlantic worlds: Trade and regional specialisation, 1550 1650," European Review of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 6(02), pages 269-275, August.
  2. Shepherd, James F. & Williamson, Samuel H., 1972. "The Coastal Trade of the British North American Colonies, 1768–1772," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 32(04), pages 783-810, December.
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Cited by:
  1. Lucy Badalian & Victor Krivorotov, 2009. "Economic development as domestication of a geoclimatic zone: The historic East-West divide and the current trends towards its closure," Journal of Innovation Economics, De Boeck Université, vol. 0(1), pages 13-48.

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