Monday, May 13, 2013

From My Notebook no. 11


 “BEYOND THOMAS MUN: THE ECONOMIC IDEAS OF EDWARD COKE, FRANCIS BACON, AND LIONEL CRANFIELD by Carlos Eduardo Suprinyak
1: … In 1603, the decision reached by King’s Bench on the famous case of Darcy v. Allen (alternatively known as The Case of Monopolies) finally offered a legal benchmark for dealing with restrictive grants of privilege issued under the sovereign prerogative (Foster 2004, p. 303). The court ruled that all royal grants which were found to be monopolistic in their nature should be declared. In 1603, the decision reached by King’s Bench on the famous case of Darcy v. Allen (alternatively known as The Case of Monopolies) finally offered a legal benchmark for dealing with restrictive grants of privilege issued under the sovereign prerogative (Foster 2004, p. 303). The court ruled that all royal grants which were found to be monopolistic in their nature should be declared legally void, for monopolies were intrinsically injurious to the commonwealth in three different ways: they caused prices to rise; they brought about deterioration in the quality of the commodities produced; and finally, they restricted general access to a given trade and thus prevented a part of the kingdom’s subjects from finding an adequate occupation (Malament 1967, pp. 1343-4). they caused prices to rise; they brought about deterioration in the quality of the commodities produced; and finally, they restricted general access to a given trade and thus prevented a part of the kingdom’s subjects from finding an adequate occupation (Malament 1967, pp. 1343-4).
2: … It was not intended that every subject should have the liberty to engage in any economic activity he/she saw fit; rather, it was the right to exercise one’s lawful trade which should be guaranteed – the right, that is, to be occupied in that branch of economic activity to which one had been properly trained under the dispositions of the Statute of Artificers.
3: … In line with his concern with the promotion of domestic industry and employment,
Coke described the disruption in the cloth trade as “one of the weightiest causes we can have”, since nine out of ten parts of English exportable commodities came “from the sheep’s back”; restoring the cloth trade to a state of order was a pressing matter, among other things, because the clothiers kept the poor people at work16 [Commons Debates, 1621, vol. II, pp. 76-7] …
4:… Above all things, good policy is to be used that the treasure and moneys in a state be not gathered into few hands. For otherwise a state may have a great stock, and yet starve. And money is like muck, not good except it be spread. This is done chiefly by suppressing or at least keeping a strait hand upon the devouring trades of usury, ingrossing great pasturages, and the like (Bacon 2002 [1625], p. 369)
5: Economic management, to Francis Bacon as to Edward Coke, was an instrument for preserving the order, stability, and harmony of the commonwealth. (p13)
GK:
Adds insight to the mercantile political economy debate before Smith. Elizabethan state-sponsored intervention in skilled-worker trades through monopolies awarded to Guilds to manage apprenticeships, ostensibly to “improve” skilled resources by protecting them from semi-skilled, poor tradesmen, and the like, developed in the 1600s into actual monopolies (debates between Coke and Bacon as influencers in government legislation) and highly restrictive practices that held back competition and raised prices. (see para 2).  The problem of the Guilds caught Smith's attention in Wealth Of Nations.  They were obstructive monopolies set up for "quality" reasons in the 15th century, debated in the 16th century,  highly obstructive in the 17th century and typified in Smith's famous statement about tradesmen  'men of same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or some contrivance to raise prices.' (WN I.x.c. 27: 145) - of direct relevance to Town Guilds and monopolies.

[I received this useful notice from a useful and helpful source. It was sent to me recently by Bernardo Batiz-Lazo, editor, Bangor University HERE ernad@nep.repec.org and came as NEP: "New Economic Papers Business, Finance and Economic History". To subscribe (free service) see HERE  http://lists.repec.org/mailman/options/nep-his 
I recommend the service - many titles are not of interest to me but gems occur frequently.]

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