Global Silver Trade

800 Words4 Pages
The discovery of American silver and its subsequent influx into Europe and Asia had a significant impact on the growth of world trade, to the extent that it is accurate to say that the growth in trade at this time laid the foundations for a world economy. In the Early Modern Period there was a world market for silver, and "silver was a product produced for profit just like any other commodity." The discovery of silver in the Americas led to an increase in trade between the silver markets of the world. In particular, silver was widely used by Europeans to acquire goods from Asia. This increase in trade and the routes through which it was conducted, laid the foundations for a world economy. In the context of this essay, the concept of a "world trade" in the 16th and 17th centuries refers to the trade that took place between parts of Europe, Asia, and the Americas. It is necessary to be specific about the areas that engaged in this "world trade", as many regions of the world were not involved. However, in the world of the Early Modern Period, Western European expansion was facilitated by American silver in a number of respects. Unquestionably, the primary benefit of the silver to Europe was that for the first time it gave Europeans a commodity that could be traded in Asia. Subsequent consequences of the discovery of silver were an increase in the practicality of new, European controlled sea-trade routes connecting parts of America, Asia and Europe; the accumulation of capital in Europe allowing the shift from feudalism to capitalism to take place; and ultimately, an increase in the power of Western European nations. The importance of Silver to the "World Economy" will first be described. Other important consequences of American silver will then be examined, as will the impact of these on "World Trade". The discovery of American silver was made in a world that wanted
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