The concept of capital rediscovered

As we have seen regarding Olivi and his followers (pages 80 84), the concept of capital sprang from the debate on usury and interest. The idea that interest was legitimate took a long time to develop, from the late Middle Ages through to the sixteenth century. The concept of capital evolved in the sixteenth century. Barbieri shows that, for the ecclesiastical thinking of that period, usurers' credit met with disapproval only when it financed consumption, not if it served for investment.9 In...

Chrysohedonism or fear of goods

The fact that the early mercantilists kept talking about 'treasure' when they already meant 'capital' led their successors to be over-critical of them. To understand the mercantilists' 'hunger for goods', we must first evaluate the accusations levelled at them by the Enlightenment thinkers, starting from Hume on the balance of trade see below, page 214 , to Mirabeau,26 and to Adam Smith. Smith's were the most organic criticisms, and they had a devastating effect. It was these criticisms that...