This article is a brief interpretive survey of some of the major features of the economic history of Mexico from pre-conquest to the present. I begin with the pre-capitalist economy of Mesoamerica.
The colonial period is divided into the Habsburg and Bourbon regimes, although the focus is not really political: Next I analyze the economic impact of independence and its accompanying conflict.
This is followed by an examination of the so-called Mexican Miracle, the period of import-substitution industrialization after World War II. It is impossible to be comprehensive and the references appearing in the citations are highly selective and biased where possible in favor of English-language works, although Spanish is a must for getting beyond the basics.
This is especially true in economic history, where some of the most innovative and revisionist Deteriorating Terms Of Trade Thesis is being done, as it should be, by historians click the following article economists in Mexico. Colonial Mexico basically stretched from Guatemala, across what is now California and the Southwestern United States, and vaguely into the Pacific Northwest.
There matters stood for more than three centuries . The northern boundary now ran on a line beginning with the Rio Grande to El Paso, and thence more or less west to the Pacific Ocean south of San Diego. With one major adjustment in the Gadsden Purchase or Treaty of the Mesilla and minor ones thereafter, because of the shifting of the Rio Grande, there it has remained.
Prior to the arrival of the Europeans, Mexico was a congeries of ethnic and city states whose own boundaries were unstable. At Teotihuacan, there were living quarters given over to Olmec residents from the Veracruz region, presumably merchants. Mesoamerica was connected, if not unified, by an ongoing trade in luxury goods and valuable stones such as jade, turquoise and precious feathers.
This was not, however, trade driven primarily by factor endowments and relative costs. Climate and resource endowments did differ significantly over the widely diverse regions and microclimates of Mesoamerica. Yet trade was also political and ritualized in religious belief. For example, calling the shipment of turquoise from link U.
Southwest to Central Mexico the outcome of market activity is an anachronism. In the very long run, such prehistorical exchange facilitated the later emergence of trade routes, roads, and more technologically advanced forms of transport.
But arbitrage does not appear to have figured importantly in it. In these years, specificity of time and place, sometimes reaching to the village level, is an indispensable prerequisite for meaningful discussion.
At the very least, it is usually advisable to be aware of substantial regional differences which reflect the ethnic and linguistic diversity of the country both before and after the arrival of the Europeans.
In the codices or deerskin folded paintings the Europeans examined or actually commissionedthey Deteriorating Terms Of Trade Thesis became aware of a prominent form of Mesoamerican economic activity: In the absence of anything that served as money, tribute was forced exchange. Tribute has been interpreted as a means of redistribution in a nonmonetary economy. Social and political units formed a basis for assessment, and the goods collected included maize, beans, chile and cotton cloth.
The Economic History of Mexico. The Economic History of Mexico. Richard Salvucci, Trinity University Preface. This article is a brief interpretive survey of some of. The first and the best free dating site for Expats in Germany. Find and meet other expats in Germany. Register for free now. KKR, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts. Subject Listing. Note: Not all subjects are available for enrolment in a given year. If a subject is listed in a course but not available to enrol please contact.
There is little or no evidence Deteriorating Terms Of Trade Thesis the existence of labor or land markets to do so, for these were a European import, although marketplaces for goods existed in profusion. To an extent, the preconquest reliance on barter economies and the absence of money largely accounts for the ubiquity of tribute. The absence of money is much more difficult to explain and was surely an obstacle to the Deteriorating Terms Of Trade Thesis of productivity in the indigenous economies.
The tribute was a near-universal attribute please click for source Mesoamerican ceremonial centers and political empires.
The city of Teotihuacan ca. Tlatelolco cawith a population ranging from 50 to thousand drew maize, cotton, cacao, beans and precious feathers from a wide swath of territory that broadly extended from the Pacific to Gulf coasts that supported an upper stratum of priests, warriors, nobles, and merchants.
It was this urban complex that sat atop the lagoons that filled the Valley of Mexico that so awed the arriving conquerors. These embrace a wide range of geographic features ranging from rugged volcanic highlands and even higher snow-capped volcanoes to marshy, humid coastal plains.
Even today, travel through these regions is challenging. Lacking both the wheel and draught animals, the indigenous peoples relied on human transport, or, where possible, waterborne exchange.
However we measure the costs of transportation, they were high. In the colonial period, they typically circumscribed the subsistence radius of markets to 25 to 35 miles. Under the circumstances, it is not easy to imagine that voluntary exchange, particularly between the coastal lowlands and the temperate to cold highlands and mountains, would be profitable for all but the most highly valued goods.
In some parts of Mexico—as in the Andean region—linkages of family and kinship bound different regions together in a cult of reciprocal economic obligations. Deteriorating Terms Of Trade Thesis absent such connections, it is not hard to imagine, for example, transporting woven cottons from the coastal lowlands to the population centers of the highlands could become a political obligation rather than a matter of profitable, voluntary exchange.
The relatively ambiguous role of markets in both labor and goods that persisted into the nineteenth century may perhaps derive from just this combination of climatic and geographical characteristics.
It is what made voluntary exchange under capitalistic markets such a puzzlingly problematic answer to the ordinary demands of economic activity.
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Mexico was established by military conquest and civil war. In the process, a civilization with its own institutions and complex culture was profoundly modified and altered, if not precisely destroyed, by the European invaders. The catastrophic elements of conquest, including the sharp decline of the existing indigenous population, from perhaps 25 million to fewer than a million within a century due to warfare, disease, social disorganization and the imposition of demands for labor and resources should nevertheless not preclude some assessment, however tentative, of its economic level inwhen the Europeans arrived.
Recent thinking suggests that Spain was far from poor when it began its overseas expansion. The reaction of the Europeans was almost uniformly astonishment by the apparent material wealth of Tenochtitlan.
The public buildings, spacious residences of the temple precinct, the causeways linking the island to the shore, and the here array of goods available in the marketplace evoked comparisons to Venice, Constantinople, and other wealthy centers of European civilization. While it is true that this was a view of the indigenous elite, the beneficiaries of the wealth accumulated from numerous tributaries, it hardly suggests anything other than a kind of storied opulence.
It is hard to imagine that the average standard of living in Mexico was any lower than that of the Iberian Peninsula. The conquerors remarked Deteriorating Terms Of Trade Thesis the physical size and apparent robust health of the people whom they met, and from this, scholars such as Woodrow Borah and Sherburne Cook concluded that the physical size of the Europeans and the Mexicans was about the same.
Borah and Cook surmised that caloric intake per individual in Central Mexico was around 1, calories per day, which certainly seems comparable to European levels.
Terms of trade
Certainly, the technological differences with Europe hampered commercial exchange, such as the absence of the wheel for transportation, metallurgy that did not include iron, Deteriorating Terms Of Trade Thesis the exclusive reliance on pictographic writing systems. They were expert at soil management. The essentially political and clan-based nature of economic activity made the distribution of output somewhat different from standard neoclassical models.
Although no one seriously maintains that indigenous civilization did not include private property and, in fact, property rights in humans, the distribution of product tended to emphasize average rather than marginal product.
If responsibility for tribute was collective, it is logical to suppose that there was some element of redistribution and collective claim on output by the basic social groups of indigenous society, the clans or calpulli. It is more likely that the tensions exploited by the Europeans to divide and conquer their native hosts and so erect a colonial state on pre-existing native entities were mainly political rather than socioeconomic. It was through the assistance of native allies such as the Tlaxcalans, as well as with the help of previously unknown diseases such as smallpox that ravaged the indigenous peoples, that the Europeans were able to place a weakened Tenochtitlan under siege and finally defeat it.
With the subjection first of Tenochtitlan and Tlatelolco and then of other polities and peoples, a process that would ultimately stretch well into the nineteenth century and was never really completed, the Europeans turned their attention to making colonialism pay. The process had several components: These processes were complex, required much time, and were, in many cases, only partly successful. There is considerable speculation regarding how long it took before Spain arguably a relevant term by the mid-sixteenth century made colonialism pay.
The best we can do is present a schematic view of what occurred. Regional variations were enormous: Moreover, all generalizations are fragile, rest on limited quantitative evidence, and will no doubt be substantially modified eventually.
The message is simple: The Europeans did not seek to take Mesoamerica as a tabula rasa. In some ways, they would have been happy to simply become the latest in a long line of ruling dynasties established by decapitating native elites and assuming control. The initial demand of the conquerors for Deteriorating Terms Of Trade Thesis to native labor in the so-called encomienda was precisely that, with the actual task of governing be left to the surviving and collaborating elite: They died source such large numbers as to make the original strategy impracticable.
The number of people who lived in Mesoamerica has long been a subject of controversy, but there is no point in spelling it out once again. The numbers are unknowable and, in an economic sense, not really important. The population of Tenochtitlan has read more variously estimated between 50 and thousand individuals, depending on the instruments of estimation.
As previously mentioned, some estimates of the Central Mexican population range as high as 25 million on the eve of the European conquest, and virtually no serious student accepts the small population estimates based on the work of Angel Rosenblatt. Byor thereabouts, the indigenous population had fallen to less than a million according to Cook and Borah. This is not just the quantitative speculation of modern historical demographers.
The homes of the commoners mostly empty, roads and streets deserted, churches empty on feast days, the few Indians who populate the towns in Spanish farms and factories. There was a smallpox epidemic in when 5 to 8 million died. The epidemic of hemorrhagic fever in to was one of the worst demographic catastrophes in human history, killing 5 to 15 million people.
And then again in towhen 2 to 2. The death toll was staggering. Lesser outbreaks were registered in,,and The larger point is that the intensive use of native labor, such as the encomienda, Deteriorating Terms Of Trade Thesis to come to an end, whatever its legal status had become by virtue of the New Laws The encomienda or the simple exploitation of massive numbers of indigenous workers was no longer possible. As a result, the institutions and methods of economic appropriation were forced to change.
Sheep and cattle, which the Europeans introduced, became part of the new institutional backbone of the colony. The click at this page would continue to rely on maize for the better part source their subsistence, but the Europeans introduced wheat, olives Deteriorating Terms Of Trade Thesisgrapes wine and even chickens, which the natives rapidly adopted.
On the whole, the results of these alterations were complex.
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Some scholars argue that the native diet improved even in the face of their diminishing numbers, a consequence of increased land per person and of greater variety of foodstuffs, and that the agricultural potential of the colony now called New Spain was enhanced.
By the beginning of the seventeenth century, the combined indigenous, European immigrant, and new mixed blood populations could largely survive on the basis of their own production. The native peoples continued to produce cottons a domestic crop under the stimulus of European organization, lending, and marketing. Extensive pastoralism, the cultivation of cereals and even the incorporation of native labor then more info Deteriorating Terms Of Trade Thesis emergence of the great estates or haciendas, which became a characteristic rural institution through the twentieth century, when the Mexican Revolution put an end to many of them.
Certainly, Mexico before the Conquest was self-sufficient. The extent to which the immigrant and American Spaniard or creole population depended on imports of wine, oil and other foodstuffs and textiles in the decades immediately following the conquest is much less clear. Scholars who have closely examined the emergence of land markets after the conquest—mainly in the Valley of Mexico—are virtually unanimous in this conclusion.
To the extent that markets in labor and commodities had emerged, it took Deteriorating Terms Of Trade Thesis the s and later elsewhere in New Spain for the development to reach maturity.