The Fruits of El Dorado: The Global Impact of American Precious Metals

37 Pages Posted: 14 May 2021

Date Written: April 2021


The quest for precious metals and trade routes during the early modern period fundamentally changed the world. What was the global impact of the large deposits of silver and gold which existed in the Americas? In this chapter, we take a global view. We find that in Europe, England and the Netherlands benefited the most. By contrast, the colonizers par excellence, Spain and Portugal, were unable to profit from their colonial expansion. In Latin America, the exploitation of precious mineral resources enabled the geographic expansion of the empire and shaped labor institutions, the fiscal apparatus, and economic activity. The direct impact on other parts of the world was negligible; but the long-term political consequences of European presence shaped the world as we know it today.

JEL Classification: F54, N50, O43, Q33

Suggested Citation

Arroyo Abad, Leticia and Palma, Nuno Pedro G., The Fruits of El Dorado: The Global Impact of American Precious Metals (April 2021). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP16067, Available at SSRN:

Leticia Arroyo Abad (Contact Author)

CUNY - Queens College ( email )

65-30 Kissena Blvd
Flushing, NY 11367-1597
United States

Nuno Pedro G. Palma

University of Manchester ( email )

Oxford Road
Manchester, N/A M13 9PL
United Kingdom

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