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Myth and Reality of China's Seventeenth-Century Monetary Crisis


  • Glahn, Richard Von


The impact of China's demand for silver on global trade in specie and monetary metals during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries remains poorly understood. Conventional wisdom postulates that seventeenth-century China became so dependent on foreign silver to sustain domestic economic growth that a sharp fall in silver imports in the 1640s led to the fall of the Ming dynasty in 1644. This hypothesis rests on dubious theoretical and empirical grounds. The demand for silver in China was determined by long-term changes in indigenous demand for money rather than short-term fluctuations in the flow of silver imports.

Suggested Citation

  • Glahn, Richard Von, 1996. "Myth and Reality of China's Seventeenth-Century Monetary Crisis," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 56(2), pages 429-454, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:cup:jechis:v:56:y:1996:i:02:p:429-454_01

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    Cited by:

    1. Jacques Melitz, 2019. "Some Doubts about the Economic Analysis of the Flow of Silver to China in 1550–1820," Open Economies Review, Springer, vol. 30(1), pages 105-131, February.

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