Monarchy, Monopoly and Mercantilism: Brazil versus the United States in the 1800s
GDP was $738 per capita in Brazil and $807 in the United States in 1800, but was $4,854 in the latter in 1900 and actually fell from $738 in Brazil by 1913. Relative factor endowments and institutions, broadly considered, are twin traditional explanations for the extremely diverse growth rates. In this paper we offer a complementary analysis of specific political and economic structures to help explain the success and persistence of monopoly restrictions in Brazil and the failure of internal mercantilism in the U.S. We conclude that Brazilian institutions provided a ripe and efficient environment for rent seeking. Such conditions did not exist in the U.S., a fact that helped produce the vast difference in growth in the 1800s. Copyright 2003 by Kluwer Academic Publishers
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