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New World GoldCultural Anxiety and Monetary Disorder in Early Modern Spain$
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Elvira Vilches

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780226856186

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226856193.001.0001

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Conclusion: A Remote and Exotic Geography

Conclusion: A Remote and Exotic Geography

(p.321) Conclusion: A Remote and Exotic Geography
New World Gold
University of Chicago Press

From the sixteenth to the seventeenth centuries, Spain adopted economic policies aimed at accumulating precious metals. The Spanish crown saw an exceptional opportunity to build a rich and solid economy by conquering the Americas and exploiting the gold and silver mines of the New World, a desire based on mercantilist assumptions that a country's economic growth hinged on its capacity to enlarge its share of global wealth and overseas territory. However, advocates of mercantilism failed to see that commercial mechanisms were interconnected rather than independent. The flow of gold triggered increases in both prices and imports, resulting in higher international debt and worsening the outflow of bullion. The tight connection between the new world of finance and the New World of the Indies caused money to evolve in distinct fashion from the expansion of the monetary economy. Economic writing struggled with the financial expansion and often privileged a more traditional view of money, credit, and value. Despite their different agendas, both scholars and mercantilist authors functioned within the ideological premises of mercantilism.

Keywords:   Spain, gold, New World, mercantilism, Indies, money, credit, value, prices, debt

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