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January 21, 2020

158 The end of this chapter has the prices of wheat from 1741-1750 and 1731-1740

Its average was not so much below the general average of the first 64 years of the century.

  • The year 1740 was a year of extraordinary scarcity.
  • The years 1730-1749 were opposite those of 1750-1769.
  • 1730-1749 were below the century’s average, despite the dear years.
  • 1751-1770 were above the century’s average, despite the cheap ones (for example= 1759).
  • If 1730-1749 were not below the average, we should impute it to the bounty.

The change was too sudden to be ascribed to any change in the value of silver, which is always slow and gradual. Only a sudden cause like the accidental variation of the seasons can produce a sudden effect.

159 The money price of labour in Great Britain rose during the 18th century.

It was caused by an increase in the demand for labour. This demand was caused by the universal prosperity of Great Britain and not so much by any reduction in silver value in Europe. France is less prosperous than Great Britain. The money price of labour in France since the mid-17th century, sunk gradually with the average money price of wheat.

In the 17th and 18th centuries, the day-wages of common labour in France were uniform at the 20th part of the average price of the septier of wheat. It contains a little more than four Winchester bushels. In Great Britain, the real recompence of labour increased considerably during the 18th century. The rise in its money price was the effect of the rise in the real price of labour and not of any reduction of silver value.

160 After the first discovery of America, silver sold at its former price.

The profits of mining would for some time be very great, above their natural rate. Those who imported silver into Europe found that it could not be disposed of at this high price. Silver gradually exchanged for fewer goods. Its price sank lower until it fell to its natural price. In most of the silver mines of Peru, the tax of the king of Spain was 10% of the gross produce. It ate up the whole rent of the land. This tax was originally at 50% Then it fell to 33% Then to 20%.

Finally, it fell to 10% as today. In most of the silver mines of Peru, 10% was all that remained after paying the natural price. The once-high profits are now at its lowest possible rate.

161 In 1504, the tax of the king of Spain was reduced to 20% of the silver registered.

This was 41 years before the discovery of the Potosi mines in 1545. After 90 years or before 1636, these fertile mines produced their full effect. They reduced the value of silver in the Europe as low as possible while paying this tax to the king of Spain. 90 years is sufficient time to reduce any non-monopolized commodity to its natural price. Natural price is the lowest price a commodity can be sold for any considerable time.

162 The silver prices in Europe might have fallen still lower.

It might have become necessary to=

  • reduce its tax to 5% like the gold tax or
  • give up most of the American mines

This was probably prevented by=

  • the gradual increase in silver demand or
  • the gradual enlargement of the silver market

It kept up and even raised silver prices higher than its price in the middle of the last century.

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