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

Listed author(s):
  • Regina Grafe
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    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.

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    Paper provided by London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History in its series Economic History Working Papers with number 22363.

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    Length: 37 pages
    Date of creation: Feb 2003
    Handle: RePEc:ehl:wpaper:22363
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    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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