The Founding of Manila and the Origin of Global Trade, 1571

In 1995, historians Dennis O. Flynn and Arturo Giráldez published a seminal article in the Journal of World History entitled “Born with a ‘Silver Spoon': The Origin of World Trade in 1571.”

Global trade emerged with the founding of Manila in 1571, at which time all important populated continents began to exchange products continuously. The silver market was key to this process. China became the dominant buyer because both its fiscal and monetary systems had converted to a silver standard; the value of silver in China surged to double its worth in the rest of the world. Microeconomic analysis leads to startling conclusions. Both Tokugawa Japan and the Spanish empire were financed by mining profits–profits that would not have existed in the absence of end-customer China. Europeans were physically present in early modern Asia, but the economic impact of China on Western lands was far greater than any European influence on Asia.

SOURCE: Journal of World History 6 (1995): 201-221

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