The paper takes issue with the mainstream economic analysis of the enormous flow of silver into China in 1550–1820. First, I challenge the view that arbitrage between gold and silver in European trade with China was important except for one twenty-year spell. Next, I argue that had China imported gold, its history would have been much the same. I also dispute the idea that the persistence of the silver inflows from 1550 to 1820 implies any persistent disequilibrium, and I maintain that economic theory can easily accommodate the view that the inflow of silver into China sponsored growth in China.
- Silver flows into China 1550–1820
- Silver/gold exchange rates
- Transaction costs in international trade
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Economics and Econometrics