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A stakeholder empire: the political economy of Spanish imperial rule in America

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  • Grafe, Regina
  • Irigoin, Maria Alejandra

Abstract

This paper revises the traditional view of Spain as a predatory colonial state that extracted revenue from natural resources and populations in the Americas while offering little in return. Using 18th century Spanish American treasury accounts we show that local elites not only exerted important control over revenue collection as argued by (Irigoin/Grafe 2006) but also over expenditure allocation. Mirroring Elliot’s characterization of the English empire as a ‘stakeholder empire’ we contend that the Spanish colonial state developed into a stakeholder model, in which local interests were deeply invested in the survival and expansion of empire. The means of co-optation were intra-colonial transfers, as well as credit relations between the state and colonial individuals and corporations, which guaranteed that much of colonial revenue was immediately fed back into the local economy, while minimizing enforcements costs. By allowing stakeholder control of both revenue and expenditure Spain managed to avoid the problems faced by France where royal control of expenditure clashed with at least partial elite control of revenue raising (Velde/Weir 1992, Hoffman/Rosenthal 1997).

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  • Grafe, Regina & Irigoin, Maria Alejandra, 2008. "A stakeholder empire: the political economy of Spanish imperial rule in America," Economic History Working Papers 22306, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.
  • Handle: RePEc:ehl:wpaper:22306
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    Cited by:

    1. Bakker, Gerben & Crafts, Nicholas & Woltjer, Pieter, 2015. "A Vision of the Growth Process in a Technologically Progressive Economy: the United States, 1899-1941," CEPR Discussion Papers 10995, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. Irigoin, A, 2012. "Bounded Leviathan: or why North & Weingast are only right on the right half," MPRA Paper 39722, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Leonor Freire Costa, & M. Manuela Rocha, & Paulo Brito, 2014. "Money Supply and the Credit Market in Early Modern Economies: The Case of Eighteenth-Century Lisbon," Working Papers GHES - Office of Economic and Social History 2014/52, ISEG - Lisbon School of Economics and Management, GHES - Social and Economic History Research Unit, Universidade de Lisboa.
    4. Albrecht Ritschl, 2012. "Reparations, Deficits, and Debt Default: the Great Depression in Germany," CEP Discussion Papers dp1149, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    5. Kendrick, Neil, 2013. "Educação para todos –“free to those who can afford it”: human capital and inequality persistence in 21st c Brazil," Economic History Working Papers 50970, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.
    6. Restrepo-Estrada, Maria Isabel & Tena Junguito, Antonio, 2016. "The roots of regional trade in the Americas 1870 to 1950," IFCS - Working Papers in Economic History.WH 23304, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid. Instituto Figuerola.
    7. Irigoin, Alejandra, 2015. "Representation without taxation, taxation without consent. The legacy of Spanish colonialism in America," Economic History Working Papers 64804, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.
    8. Javier L. Arnaut, 2017. "Was Colonialism Fiscally Sustainable? An Empirical Examination of the Colonial Finances of Spanish America," Documentos de Trabajo (DT-AEHE) 1703, Asociacion Espa–ola de Historia Economica.
    9. Irigoin, Alejandra, 2016. "Representation without taxation, taxation without consent: the legacy of Spanish colonialism in America," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 67384, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • N0 - Economic History - - General
    • O52 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Europe
    • H83 - Public Economics - - Miscellaneous Issues - - - Public Administration
    • O51 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - U.S.; Canada

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