Advanced Search
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

A 'Trojan Horse' in Daoguang China?: Explaining the flows of silver (and opium) in and out of China

Contents:

Author Info

  • Irigoin, Alejandra

Abstract

Economic historians have offered several explanations for China’s cycles of silverisation and de-silverisation in the 18th and 19th centuries focusing either on exogenous supply shortages in world silver markets or an outflow of silver as a consequence of opium imports. This paper challenges both existing “supply-side” and “demand-side” explanations. Section two shows that the supply side change was not a decline in the quantity of silver but in the quality of imported silver coins after the 1820s. Section three shows that this led to a decline in demand because China did not perform as a classic bi-metallic system as usually assumed. Because China lacked monetary sovereignty, the Chinese adopted a foreign coin, the Spanish American peso as the preferred means of payment in some areas of southern China, and increasingly further into the interior. Section four presents evidence for the exchange rate premium of the Spanish American silver coin over other coins and, more importantly, over silver sycee in China after the 1790s. This allowed for large-scale arbitrage by means of acquiring silver sycee in China for export, while bringing coined silver to China. Underlying this sort of 'dollarization' in China was opium. Hence section five shows that opium imports did not trigger the outflow of silver. Instead the flight of silver in fact seems to be the cause for large opium imports.

Download Info

If 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.
File URL: http://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/43987/
File Function: original version
Download Restriction: no

Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 43987.

as in new window
Length:
Date of creation: 20 Jan 2013
Date of revision:
Publication status: Published in LSE Economic History Department Working Papers 173.2013(2013): pp. 1-34
Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:43987

Contact details of provider:
Postal: Schackstr. 4, D-80539 Munich, Germany
Phone: +49-(0)89-2180-2219
Fax: +49-(0)89-2180-3900
Web page: http://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de
More information through EDIRC

Related research

Keywords: Monetary history of China; bimetallic system; 'dollarization'; silver trade; Opium imports; Daoguang depression;

Find related papers by JEL classification:

This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

References

References listed on IDEAS
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.:
as in new window
  1. Jeffrey A. Miron & Chris Feige, 2005. "The Opium Wars, Opium Legalization, and Opium Consumption in China," NBER Working Papers 11355, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Maria Alejandra Irigoin, 2009. "Gresham on horseback: the monetary roots of Spanish American political fragmentation in the nineteenth century -super-1," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 62(3), pages 551-575, 08.
  3. Chen, Chau-nan, 1975. "Flexible Bimetallic Exchange Rates in China, 1650-1850: A Historical Example of Optimum Currency Areas," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 7(3), pages 359-76, August.
  4. Feige, Chris & Miron, Jeffrey A., 2008. "The Opium Wars, Opium Legalization and Opium Consumption in China," Scholarly Articles 11379703, Harvard University Department of Economics.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

Citations

Lists

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

Statistics

Access and download statistics

Corrections

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:43987. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Ekkehart Schlicht).

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.