Global Quantification and Inventory Demand for Silver in China

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Pérez-García, Manuel
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Cambridge University Press
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This article provides an initial (partial) estimate of silver quantities held within China around mid-18th century, utilising archival evidence related to wealth confiscations. Better future estimates for overall Chinese silver holdings could also facilitate more accurate estimation of Chinese silver (legal plus illegal) imports. Similar analyses for other world regions could eventually yield estimates for global silver stock holdings, useful in turn for improving global silver mining and trade flow estimates. Extensive contraband silver mining and silver trade are known to have escaped official recordation, by definition. If methodologies suggested herein prove successful, then parallel non-silver-trade-good estimates could follow. Current exclusive focus upon production and trade flows should be reevaluated in the context of linkages with accumulations of goods (wealth components). Economic history could someday provide a prominent stage for the historical study of wealth holdings, thereby furnishing context for increasing wealth concentrations observable worldwide today.
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Revista De Historia Económica / Journal of Iberian and Latin American Economic History 38, no. 3 (2020): 421-47
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