Money, credit and Smithian growth in Tokugawa Japan
In the latter half of the Tokugawa period economic growth, however sluggish its pace was, took place in the form of rural industrialisation and the expansion of inter-regional trade. This paper addresses the following questions: how capital was mobilised for such rural-centred growth in production and commerce, and how the quasi-capital markets worked in both the Osaka economy and in the countryside, with special reference to trends in interest rates over time, in a pre-modern setting of market segmentation. The paper will argue that although Tokugawa Japan's formal institutions were far from ideal, the credit systems did function as quasi-capital markets reasonably well within each commercial network formed through relational contracting, and that for the Smithian process of early modern growth to work, inter-regional competition mattered more than institutional maturity of the nation's market environment.
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