Tomás de Mercado

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De' negotii et contratti de mercanti, 1591. Mercado - De' negotii, 1591 - 268.tif
De' negotii et contratti de mercanti, 1591.

Tomás de Mercado (1525–1575) was a Spanish Dominican friar and both an economist and a theologian, best known for his book Summa de Tratos y Contratos ("Manual of Deals and Contracts") of 1571. Together with Martín de Azpilcueta he founded the economic tradition of "Iberian monetarism"; both form part of the general intellectual tradition often known as "Late Scholasticism", or the School of Salamanca.

Dominican Order Roman Catholic religious order

The Order of Preachers, also known as the Dominican Order, is a mendicant Catholic religious order founded by the Spanish priest Dominic of Caleruega in France, approved by Pope Innocent III via the Papal bull Religiosam vitam on 22 December 1216. Members of the order, who are referred to as Dominicans, generally carry the letters OP after their names, standing for Ordinis Praedicatorum, meaning of the Order of Preachers. Membership in the order includes friars, nuns, active sisters, and affiliated lay or secular Dominicans.

Friar member of a mendicant religious order in Catholic Christianity

A friar is a brother member of one of the mendicant orders founded in the twelfth or thirteenth century; the term distinguishes the mendicants' itinerant apostolic character, exercised broadly under the jurisdiction of a superior general, from the older monastic orders' allegiance to a single monastery formalized by their vow of stability. The most significant orders of friars are the Dominicans, Franciscans, Augustinians and Carmelites.

Economist professional in the social science discipline of economics

An economist is a practitioner in the social science discipline of economics.


He was either born in Seville or possibly Mexico, where he joined the Dominicans as a young man, becoming lecturer in Arts in the Priory in Mexico City, before returning to study at Salamanca University, where he then became a lecturer in philosophy, moral theology and law. [1] He then worked in the Exchange House of Seville, the centre of Spain's international money-flows. [2] He died at sea on a voyage returning to Mexico.

Seville Place in Andalusia, Spain

Seville is the capital and largest city of the autonomous community of Andalusia and the province of Seville, Spain. It is situated on the plain of the river Guadalquivir. The inhabitants of the city are known as sevillanos or hispalenses, after the Roman name of the city, Hispalis. Seville has a municipal population of about 690,000 as of 2016, and a metropolitan population of about 1.5 million, making it the fourth-largest city in Spain and the 30th most populous municipality in the European Union. Its Old Town, with an area of 4 square kilometres (2 sq mi), contains three UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the Alcázar palace complex, the Cathedral and the General Archive of the Indies. The Seville harbour, located about 80 kilometres from the Atlantic Ocean, is the only river port in Spain. Seville is also the hottest major metropolitan area in the geographical Southwestern Europe, with summer average high temperatures of above 35 °C (95 °F).

Mexico Country in the southern portion of North America

Mexico, officially the United Mexican States, is a country in the southern portion of North America. It is bordered to the north by the United States; to the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; to the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and to the east by the Gulf of Mexico. Covering almost 2,000,000 square kilometers (770,000 sq mi), the nation is the fifth largest country in the Americas by total area and the 13th largest independent state in the world. With an estimated population of over 120 million people, the country is the tenth most populous state and the most populous Spanish-speaking state in the world, while being the second most populous nation in Latin America after Brazil. Mexico is a federation comprising 31 states and Mexico City, a special federal entity that is also the capital city and its most populous city. Other metropolises in the state include Guadalajara, Monterrey, Puebla, Toluca, Tijuana and León.

Mexico City Capital City in Mexico, Mexico

Mexico City, or the City of Mexico, is the capital of Mexico and the most populous city in North America. It is one of the most important cultural and financial centres in the Americas. It is located in the Valley of Mexico, a large valley in the high plateaus in the center of Mexico, at an altitude of 2,240 meters (7,350 ft). The city has 16 boroughs.

Mercado became more widely known outside the Spanish-speaking world after he was discussed by Joseph Schumpeter in his History of Economic Analysis, published posthumously, ed. Elisabeth Boody Schumpeter, in 1954. With the strong revival of monetarist economics since then, he has attracted further scholarly attention.

Joseph Schumpeter Austrian economist

Joseph Aloïs Schumpeter was an Austrian political economist. Born in Moravia, he briefly served as Finance Minister of Austria in 1919. In 1932, he became a professor at Harvard University where he remained until the end of his career, eventually obtaining U.S. citizenship.

Mercado's Summa

The Summa was an expanded edition of a work first published in 1569 as De los tratos de India y tratantes en ellas. [3] It was written for businessmen as well as scholars and contains many general digressions on social issues, often in very lively language. [4] Azpilcueta, a few years before, was the first to link the price revolution that was affecting Spain to the influx of American gold, and Mercado extended this analysis, remarking that:

The Price Revolution, sometimes known as the Spanish Price Revolution, was a series of economic events that occurred between the second half of the 15th century and the first half of the 17th century, and most specifically to the high rate of inflation that occurred during this period across Western Europe. Prices rose on average roughly sixfold over 150 years. This level of inflation amounts to 1–1.5% per year, a relatively low inflation rate for modern-day standards, but rather high given the monetary policy in place in the 16th century.

"High prices ruined Spain as the prices attracted Asian commodities and the silver currency flowed out to pay for them. The streets of Manila in the Spanish territories of the Philippines could be paved with granite cobblestone brought from China as ballast in Chinese ships coming to get silver for China". [5]

Ballast is used in ships to provide moment to resist the lateral forces on the hull. Insufficiently ballasted boats tend to tip or heel excessively in high winds. Too much heel may result in the boat/ship capsizing. If a sailing vessel should need to voyage without cargo then ballast of little or no value would be loaded to keep the vessel upright. Some or all of this ballast would then be discarded when cargo was loaded.

He devotes much thought to the concept of the fair or "just price", analysing it in terms of wheat, and strongly supporting the tasa or fixed price set by the government on social and ethical grounds, even if it meant producers selling at a loss. [6]

Wheat Cereal grain

Wheat is a grass widely cultivated for its seed, a cereal grain which is a worldwide staple food. The many species of wheat together make up the genus Triticum; the most widely grown is common wheat.

Mercado devoted a chapter to the African slave trade, of which he was highly critical, seeing clearly that the concept of "just enslavement" did not reflect the practice of the actual trade. [7] However he regarded it as acceptable for Europeans to buy slaves enslaved by Africans, and accepted the enslavement of captives in war, those sentenced for crimes, or children sold by their parents from necessity. [8]


  1. Companion, 40
  2. Baeck, 184
  3. History of economic analysis, Schumpeter J. A.
  4. Baeck, 184
  5. The College Board, 2006 AP World History Free Response Questions - Available at here
  6. Gallardo, 10
  7. Mercado on slavery
  8. Companion, 40

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