Profitability of Slave and Long-Distance Trading in Context: The Case of Eighteenth-Century France
This paper studies the characteristics of investment in the slave trade and other long distance trades in France during the eighteenth century. After justifying why the slave trade should be aggregated with other long distance trades for this study, the paper introduces French data. Information is available on a total of 238 ventures from seven French harbours from the 1710s to the 1780s. The paper then focuses on computing the internal rate of return of the portfolio of investment in 65 voyages owned by an investor from Nantes. Using the undiscounted benefit-cost ratio as a proxy, the paper shows that this was typical of French long distance trade investments. These investments compared favourably with domestic alternatives. They were more liquid, shorter and more profitable than private notarized credit without being more risky. They were less risky and had a shorter duration than government bonds, without being less liquid or less profitable. The paper conclude that investment in the slave trade and other long distance trade was preferable to domestic alternatives in France during the eighteenth century. This might be explained by the existence of barriers to entry.
(This abstract was borrowed from another version of this item.)
Volume (Year): 64 (2004)
Issue (Month): 01 (March)
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