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The globalisation of codfish and wool: Spanish-English-North American triangular trade in the early modern period

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  • Grafe, Regina

Abstract

This paper analyses the transformation of two of the staple trades of the pre-modern international economy –those in wool and dried codfish– during the transition from the late medieval to the early-modern period. The development of early modern long-distance trade was subject to three major constraints: transport, balance of payments problems leading to bilateralism and the lack of credit markets. Economic history has concentrated in particular on the first of these. By contrast this paper provides new data for the wool and fish trades that create the basis for an in depth analysis of how balance of payments problems and credit restrictions could be minimised. We show that the integration of these two very different commodity trades was a clear strategy to overcome these constraints. Their integration in turn led to a de-monopolisation of pre-existing commercial networks and transformed both the supply and distribution networks of both goods. Finally, the paper analyses resulting alterations of the economic geography of these trades.

Suggested Citation

  • Grafe, Regina, 2003. "The globalisation of codfish and wool: Spanish-English-North American triangular trade in the early modern period," Economic History Working Papers 22363, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.
  • Handle: RePEc:ehl:wpaper:22363
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    File URL: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/22363/
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Shepherd, James F. & Williamson, Samuel H., 1972. "The Coastal Trade of the British North American Colonies, 1768–1772," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 32(04), pages 783-810, December.
    2. Lydon, James G., 1965. "Fish and Flour for Gold: Southern Europe and the Colonial American Balance of Payments," Business History Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 39(02), pages 171-183, June.
    3. Grafe, Regina, 2002. "Northern Spain between the Iberian and the Atlantic worlds: Trade and regional specialisation, 1550 1650," European Review of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 6(02), pages 269-275, August.
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    Cited by:

    1. Lucy Badalian & Victor Krivorotov, 2009. "Economic development as domestication of a geoclimatic zone: The historic East-West divide and the current trends towards its closure," Journal of Innovation Economics, De Boeck Université, vol. 0(1), pages 13-48.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • N0 - Economic History - - General
    • O52 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Europe
    • B1 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought through 1925
    • R14 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Land Use Patterns
    • J01 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General - - - Labor Economics: General
    • O51 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - U.S.; Canada
    • O52 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Europe

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