Silver Trade

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You’ve heard the phrase “worth your weight in gold.” Well how about, worth your weight in silver instead? Their once was a time when the world trade depended heavily on silver. Chinese ports would accept nothing but silver, and they had the luxury trade goods and commodities that European countries enjoyed and needed. In one fell swoop China had dramatically changed global economies as well as social standards.

First we see how the silver coin had an effect on China. Silver became Chinas number one import during the Ming dynasty. Ye Chunji, a county official said in an order issued to limit wedding expenses, “The Frugal man with only one bar of silver currency can have something left over, whereas the extravagant man with a thousand can still not have enough” (doc 1). He’s basically saying that when a poor man spends what he needs, but a rich man is never satisfied and always wants more. This is a good premise for how the Chinese valued silver. They always wanted more. They eventually only accepted silver in exchange for goods. Wang Xijue, another Ming dynasty court official reported that, “The national government requires silver for taxes but disburses little silver in its expenditures” (doc 3). This caused prices of goods to fall, even if they were in short supply. The court official probably reported this because he needed the support of his home district, and because this was hurting the Chinese economy, which meant less money for him. As the price of goods fall, such as grain, tillers receive lower returns on their labor, and less land is put into cultivation. They are now not using as much of their own internal resources as they could be which can be detrimental to their economy. We see that this may not have been such as smart move. It only got worse. A Ming dynasty writer, Xu Dunqiu, wrote that, In the past, the dye shops would allow customers to have several dozen pieces of cloth dyed before settling accounts and charging the customers. Moreover,...
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