What are the ideas of Mercantilism?

1 min readdecember 17, 2021

AP European History 🇪🇺

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A Favorable Balance of Trade ⚖

  • Mercantilists advocated for economic policies which would strengthen the state.
  • Their principal goal was a "favorable balance of trade."
  • Instead of balancing trade, mercantilists strove to export more than they imported, to ensure the state earned more than it spent.
  • Economic policies like tariffs on imported goods motivated citizens to purchase from within the country.

Bullion 🥇

  • Mercantilist states focused on amassing their wealth in the form of gold and silver, which they called bullion.
  • During the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, the use of metal as currency was rapidly increasing.
  • Mercantilists aimed to convert their commercial wealth into monetary form, which was easier to use.

Interactions with Colonies 🚢

  • Mercantilist policies treated colonies as an extension of the mother country. All finished goods they needed were to be bought from there (a good early example of this is Spain and the South American colonies).
  • Furthermore, colonies were to supply raw materials to their imperialist counterpart. 
  • These raw goods sometimes included precious metals, which were added to the country's bounty of bullion.
  • The cycle would continue as the colonizer would produce goods with the materials and trade them back into the markets from which they originated.

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