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Macroeconomic aspects of Spanish American independence : the effects of fiscal and currency fragmentation, 1800s-1860s


  • Irigoin, María Alejandra


Economic historians explaining the divergent economic path in North and South America over time focus on the post-independence period in the former British or Spanish colonies. Their institutional explanation for Latin American economic backwardness is anchored in the political disorder that occurred in the postcolonial period, which did not provide the right conditions for economic growth. Yet, more important than political aspects, fiscal and monetary fragmentation of the Spanish Empire were major factors in hindering the economic growth later in the 19th century. This paper argues that economic struggle over resources determined political outcomes rather than the other way round. By assessing the macroeconomic effects of Independence on the contemporary and further economic and political development it shows that comparisons with North America are ill conceived. The study focuses on the disintegration of colonial fiscal and monetary regimes, that had organised the economy around silver mining and the export of silver currency as fiscal revenues, and the subsequent transformation into export-led economies, specialised in producing raw materials and foodstuff

Suggested Citation

  • Irigoin, María Alejandra, 2003. "Macroeconomic aspects of Spanish American independence : the effects of fiscal and currency fragmentation, 1800s-1860s," IFCS - Working Papers in Economic History.WH wh034509, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid. Instituto Figuerola.
  • Handle: RePEc:cte:whrepe:wh034509

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Costa, Leonor Freire & Palma, Nuno & Reis, Jaime, 2013. "The great escape? The contribution of the empire to Portugal’s economic growth, 1500-1800," IFCS - Working Papers in Economic History.WH wp13-07, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid. Instituto Figuerola.
    2. Broadberry,Stephen & Campbell,Bruce M. S. & Klein,Alexander & Overton,Mark & van Leeuwen,Bas, 2015. "British Economic Growth, 1270–1870," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9781107070783, March.
    3. Broadberry, Stephen, 2013. "Accounting for the great divergence," Economic History Working Papers 54573, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.
    4. ., 2013. "Property and real rights," Chapters,in: Law and Economics for Civil Law Systems, chapter 8, pages 232-298 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    5. Allen, Robert C., 2000. "Economic structure and agricultural productivity in Europe, 1300 1800," European Review of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 4(01), pages 1-25, April.
    6. António Henriques, 2015. "Plenty of land, land of plenty: the agrarian output of Portugal (1311–20)," European Review of Economic History, Oxford University Press, vol. 19(2), pages 149-170.
    7. Regina Grafe, 2012. "Distant Tyranny: Markets, Power, and Backwardness in Spain, 1650-1800," Economics Books, Princeton University Press, edition 1, number 9625.
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    Cited by:

    1. Jeffrey G. Williamson, 2010. "Latin American Growth-Inequality Trade-Offs: The Impact of Insurgence and Independence," NBER Working Papers 15680, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Federico, Giovanni & Tena Junguito, Antonio, 2017. "Exports and American divergence. Lost decades and Emancipation collapse in Latin American and the Caribbean 1820-1870," IFCS - Working Papers in Economic History.WH 24208, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid. Instituto Figuerola.

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    JEL classification:

    • E10 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General Aggregative Models - - - General
    • E26 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Informal Economy; Underground Economy
    • H2 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue
    • H6 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt
    • N1 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations
    • N2 - Economic History - - Financial Markets and Institutions

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