Origins of Impersonal Markets in Commercial and Communication Revolutions of Europe
83 Pages Posted: 24 Jul 2017 Last revised: 7 May 2018
Date Written: April 30, 2018
In medieval Europe, trade depended on personal relationships, which were usually mediated by merchant guilds. I construct a dataset of medieval and early modern Europe, to understand how merchant guilds declined in the sixteenth century. I argue that cities close to the seaports, especially the Atlantic, were more willing to do business with merchants outside guilds. Also, cities with high printing penetration had better access to informative books like merchant manuals and reliable business practices like double-entry bookkeeping. Impersonal markets emerged in sixteenth-century Northwestern Europe that benefited from both - commerce at the Atlantic coast and the revolution in horizontal communication.
Keywords: Europe, Printing, Atlantic, Guilds, Trade, Embeddedness, Arm’s Length Exchange
JEL Classification: N13, N23, N43, N73, N93, Z13
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation