Munich Personal RePEc Archive

Commerce in Braudel and the Marxists

McCloskey, Deirdre Nansen (2009): Commerce in Braudel and the Marxists.

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Abstract

“Commercialization” and “monetization” dance with stage theories from Smith to modern growth theory. The sheer growth of traded or the sheer growth of money, though, do not an Industrial Revolution make. The ill-named “Price Revolution,” for example, came from American gold, not from population increases, and did not inspire innovation. Commercialization comes from falling transaction costs, which should be directly studied. Fernand Braudel, however, argued for commercialization as a force transforming “capitalism.” He distinguished “capitalism” from local trade, which no economist would, and assigned blame to the capitalists. Though hardly a Marxist, he---like a brilliant group of leftish economists such as Marglin and Lazonick---puts emphasis on the struggle over the spoils. But it was not such struggles that made the modern world. It was the positive sum arising from innovation.

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