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The quality of slave trade investment in eighteenth century France

Listed author(s):
  • Guillaume Daudin



This paper studies the characteristics of investment in slave trade and associated trades in France during the eighteenth century. The study of the accounts of an investor from Nantes, Bertrand de Cœuvre, shows that his investment compared favourably with domestic alternatives. It was more liquid, shorter and more profitable than private notarized credit without being more risky. It was less risky and had a shorter duration than government debt, without being less liquid or less profitable. The study of investments in a total of 238 ventures from Nantes, Marseilles, Rouen, Bordeaux, La Rochelle and Saint-Malo confirms that superiority from the 1710s to the 1780s. The fact that domestic investors and their capital were attracted to the centres of intercontinental trade investment during the period corroborates this conclusion.

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Paper provided by Observatoire Francais des Conjonctures Economiques (OFCE) in its series Documents de Travail de l'OFCE with number 2002-06.

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Date of creation: 2002
Publication status: forthcoming in Journal of Economic History
Handle: RePEc:fce:doctra:0206
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  1. Darity, William, 1985. "The Numbers Game and the Profitability of the British Trade in Slaves," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 45(03), pages 693-703, September.
  2. Hoffman, Philip T. & Postel-Vinay, Gilles & Rosenthal, Jean-Laurent, 2001. "Priceless Markets," University of Chicago Press Economics Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 1, number 9780226348018, Summer.
  3. Potter, Mark, 2000. "Good Offices: Intermediation by Corporate Bodies in Early Modern French Public Finance," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 60(03), pages 599-626, September.
  4. Rosenthal Jean-Laurent, 1993. "Credit Markets and Economic Change in Southeastern France 1630-1788," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 129-157, April.
  5. Guillaume Daudin, 2003. "Do Frontiers give of do frontiers take ? The case of intercontinental trade in France at the end of the Ancien Régime," Documents de Travail de l'OFCE 2003-03, Observatoire Francais des Conjonctures Economiques (OFCE).
  6. Darity, William Jr., 1989. "Profitability of the British trade in slaves once again," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 26(3), pages 380-384, July.
  7. Thomas, Robert Paul & Bean, Richard Nelson, 1974. "The Fishers of Men: The Profits of the Slave Trade," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 34(04), pages 885-914, December.
  8. Richardson, David, 1987. "The costs of survival: The transport of slaves in the middle passage and the profitability of the 18th-century British slave trade," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 24(2), pages 178-196, April.
  9. Richardson, David, 1989. "Accounting for profits in the British trade in slaves: Reply to William Darity," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 26(4), pages 492-499, October.
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