Mercantilism and Bureaucratic Modernization in Early Eighteenth‐Century France

30 Pages Posted: 20 Apr 2017

See all articles by Jean Beuve

Jean Beuve

University of Paris I Sorbonne

Eric Brousseau

Université Paris X Nanterre - Department of Economics

Jérôme Sgard

SciencesPo

Date Written: May 2017

Abstract

French mercantilism is generally associated with absolutist policy‐making subject to capture by rent‐seeking interests. This article investigates how the Bureau du Commerce, a small state agency in charge of commerce and the supply side, handed out rents and privileges to private entrepreneurs. We coded how the Bureau investigated and decided all 267 voluntary submissions received between 1724 and 1744. It is shown that the Bureau’s formal, rule‐based decision‐making process could actually differentiate between alternate policy aims and target them consistently over time, with more or less powerful sets of rents. From this, a hierarchy of revealed policy preferences is derived. First comes technical innovation and diffusion, then local economic development; import substitution is only in the third position, followed by consumers’ welfare. Lastly, and in contrast to a long line of authors, it is shown that the production of luxury goods was not a significant or valued objective.

Suggested Citation

Beuve, Jean and Brousseau, Eric and Sgard, Jérôme, Mercantilism and Bureaucratic Modernization in Early Eighteenth‐Century France (May 2017). The Economic History Review, Vol. 70, Issue 2, pp. 529-558, 2017. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2955393 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/ehr.12284

Jean Beuve (Contact Author)

University of Paris I Sorbonne ( email )

Maison des Sciences Economiques (B 227)
106-112 Bd de l'Hôpitak
Paris Cedex 13, 75013
France
+33144078323 (Phone)

Eric Brousseau

Université Paris X Nanterre - Department of Economics ( email )

Nanterre Cedex, 92001
France
+33140975922 (Phone)
+33140975907 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://economix.u-paris10.fr/

Jérôme Sgard

SciencesPo

Rue de l'Université 13
Paris
France

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