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In Part 1 of the Essai, he began by discarding the mercantilist notion that money was wealth and then began to build his analysis of commerce from the ground up with an analysis of the property rights of landowners and the establishment of villages, market towns, and cities.
policy has long held that mercantilists only hurt themselves, the reality is that, although some mercantilist policies that countries think will help them do backfire and end up hurting them (the bad and self-destructive ones), many mercantilist practices actually do work (the ugly ones) and help these countries gain competitive advantage, at least temporarily, especially if other countries fail to contest such practices.
English views of the Levant trade with the Ottomans--largely due to the constant threat of Mediterranean piracy--oscillated between hopeful visions of profit and this recurring fear of the stoppage of trade altogether: "As in the mercantilist theories, loss and profit co-exist, but in this trade they exist as two separate possibilities and not in a dynamic relation.
None of this is to idealize mercantilist practices, whose harmful effects are easy to see.
In an effort to create a strong national state, the mercantilists developed the principle that the wealth of a nation was contained in the vaults of the king or prince in the form of gold and silver.
The "stinking weed" dominated the economy of the Chesapeake Bay colonies and became the first colonial-produced commodity subjected to mercantilist restrictions.
Mercantilists believed that the person who sat on the biggest pile of gold was the winner.
It is time the mercantilists accepted their right to make money infringes on our right to peace and quiet.
Catalyzed by the Crusades, and initiated with the expedition of Marco Polo in the thirteenth century, European mercantilists began the process of exploration that ultimately diverted virtually all of the trade routes of Africa and East Asia away from the Middle East.
Mercantilists, with their fears of hoarding and scarcity of money together with their prescription of cheap (low interest rate) and plentiful cash as a stimulus to real activity, tend to gain the upper hand when unemployment is the dominant problem.
Smith's description of the mercantilists is a caricature.