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Unformatted text preview: trade. By the middle of the sixteenth century, financiers and traders commonly accepted bills of exchange in place of gold or silver for other goods. Bills of exchange, which had their origins in medieval Italy, were promissory notes (written promises to pay a specified amount of money by a certain date) that could be sold to third parties. In this way, they provided credit. At midcentury, an Antwerp financier only slightly exaggerated when he claimed, “0ne can no more trade without bills of exchange than sail without water." Merchants no longer had to carry gold and silver over long, dangerous journeys. An Amsterdam merchant purchasing soap from a merchant in Marseille could go to an exchanger and pay the exchanger the equivalent sum in guilders, the Dutch currency. The exchanger would then send a bill of exchange to a colleague in Marseille, authorizing the colleague to pay the Marseille merchant in the merchant's own currency after the actual exchange of goods had taken place.
Bills of exchange contributed to the development of banks, as exchangers began to provide loans. Not until the eighteenth century, however, did such banks as the Bank of Amsterdam and the Bank of England begin to provide capital for business investment. Their principal function was to provide funds for the state.
The rapid expansion in international trade also benefitted from an infusion of capital, stemming largely from 319
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gold and silver brought by Spanish vessels from the Americas. This capital financed the production of goods, storage, trade, and even credit across Europe andoverseas. Moreover an increased credit supply was generated by investments and loans by bankers and wealthy merchants to states and by jointstock partnerships an English innovation (the first major company began in 1600). Unlike shortterm financial cooperation between investors for a single commercial undertaking, jointstock companies provided permanent funding of capital by drawing on the investments of merchants and other investors who purchased shares in the company. Paragraph 1 在 In the late sixteenth century and into the seventeenth, Europe continued the growth that had lifted it out of the relatively less prosperous medieval period (from the mid 400s to the late 1400s). Among the key factors behind this growth were increased agricultural productivity and an expansion of trade.
1. According to paragraph 1, what was true of Europe during the medieval period? ○ Agricultural productivity declined.
○ There was relatively little economic growth.
○ The general level of prosperity declined.
○ Foreign trade began to play an important role in the economy.
2. The word key in the passage is closest in meaning to ○ historical
Paragraph 2 在 Populations cannot grow unless the rural economy can produce enough additional food to feed more people. During the sixteenth century, farmers brought more land into cultivation at the expense of forests and fens (lowlying wetlands). Dutch land reclamation in the...
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This note was uploaded on 09/17/2013 for the course LANGUAGE 13DL208 taught by Professor Wang during the Fall '13 term at East China Normal University.
- Fall '13