Mercan1 - ISS 225: Mercan1 January 26, 2005, p.1...

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ISS 225: Mercan1 January 26, 2005, p.1 Mercantilism in France in the 1600s and 1700s Autocratic Institutions and Management of the Economy 1 In this current section of the course, we are addressing the question: 2 Does dictatorship lead to socialism (or at least extensive government control and regulation of the economy)? 3 France and England had quite different political systems in the 1600s and 1700s. 4 The French kings were quite powerful, compared to the English kings, and it appears that they used their power to control the economy in ways which benefitted them and their monarchies. 5 In contrast, the English kings were substantially less powerful, and for a variety of reasons they were less able to manipulate the economy for their own purposes. 6 One possible consequence of the differences between the two political systems was that their economic systems performed quite differently. 7 In particular, key sectors of the English economy grew much more rapidly than key sectors of the French economy. 8 Indeed, it can be argued that one reason why the Industrial Revolution occurred first in England, and only much later in France, was due, ironically, to the decentralized character of the English political system. 9 In effect, then, one could argue that the development of autocracy (the absolutist monarchy) in France led to the development of extensive government regulation , whereas the development of democracy lead to the development of capitalism , at least in England. 10 This section of the course has a subsidiary theme as well. 11 My subsidiary purpose is to illustrate how individuals in and out of government used government power for their own personal ends. 12 In the past 30 years, there has developed a school of thought in economics and political science -- sometimes referred to as “the public choice approach” -- which seeks to explain government economic policies from this perspective. 13 In a sense, I could be accused of teaching you a somewhat cynical view of government. 14 For any particular kind of political institution that we examine, I will always be asking: “How could people in and out of this institution twist its purposes to their own personal benefit?” What was the economic management policy of the French kings in the 1600s and 1700s? 15 Traditional answer: mercantilism 16 Traditional description of mercantilism: 17 A set of international trade policies designed to accumulate wealth for the nation in the form of gold and silver
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ISS 225: Mercan1 August 21, 2003, p.2 18 A set of internal economic management policies designed to strengthen the power of the central government--the state. 19 Much of traditional economic history involving the study of mercantilism in Britain, France, and the countries of northern Europe has been conducted in terms of how national leaders pursued these national goals. 20
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This note was uploaded on 04/09/2008 for the course ISS 225 taught by Professor Williams during the Spring '07 term at Michigan State University.

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Mercan1 - ISS 225: Mercan1 January 26, 2005, p.1...

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