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The Fruits of El Dorado: The Global Impact of American Precious Metals

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  • Leticia Arroyo Abad
  • Nuno Palma

Abstract

The quest for precious metals and trade routes during the early modern period fundamentally changed the world. What was the global impact of the large deposits of silver and gold which existed in the Americas? In this chapter, we take a global view. We find that in Europe, England and the Netherlands benefited the most. By contrast, the colonizers par excellence, Spain and Portugal, were unable to profit from their colonial expansion. In Latin America, the exploitation of precious mineral resources enabled the geographic expansion of the empire and shaped labor institutions, the fiscal apparatus, and economic activity. The direct impact on other parts of the world was negligible; but the long-term political consequences of European presence shaped the world as we know it today.

Suggested Citation

  • Leticia Arroyo Abad & Nuno Palma, 2020. "The Fruits of El Dorado: The Global Impact of American Precious Metals," Economics Discussion Paper Series 2003, Economics, The University of Manchester, revised May 2021.
  • Handle: RePEc:man:sespap:2003
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    Cited by:

    1. Yao Chen & Nuno Palma & Felix Ward, 2022. "Goldilocks: American precious metals and the Rise of the West," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 22-063/VI, Tinbergen Institute, revised 15 Feb 2023.
    2. Palma, Nuno & Charotti, Carlos Javier & dos Santos, Joao Pereira, 2022. "American treasure and the decline of Spain," CEPR Discussion Papers 17020, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    3. Adam Brzezinski & Roberto Bonfatti & K. KıvançKaraman & Nuno Palma, 2020. "Monetary Capacity," Economics Series Working Papers 926, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
    4. Kedrosky, Davis & Palma, Nuno, 2021. "The Cross of Gold: Brazilian Treasure and the Decline of Portugal," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 574, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
    5. Palma, Nuno & Reis, Jaime & Rodrigues, Lisbeth, 2023. "Historical gender discrimination does not explain comparative Western European development: evidence from Portugal, 1300-1900," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 88(C).
    6. Koyama, Mark & Arteaga, Fernando & Desierto, Desiree, 2020. "Shipwrecked by Rents," CEPR Discussion Papers 15300, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    7. Palma, Nuno & Papadia, Andrea & Pereira, Thales & Weller, Leonardo, 2020. "Slavery and development in nineteenth century Brazil," CEPR Discussion Papers 15495, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.

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    JEL classification:

    • N50 - Economic History - - Agriculture, Natural Resources, Environment and Extractive Industries - - - General, International, or Comparative
    • O43 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Institutions and Growth
    • Q33 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Nonrenewable Resources and Conservation - - - Resource Booms (Dutch Disease)
    • F54 - International Economics - - International Relations, National Security, and International Political Economy - - - Colonialism; Imperialism; Postcolonialism

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