chapter  5
20 Pages

The Transatlantic Flow of Price Information in the Spanish Colonial Trade, 1680–1820

Introduction e eighteenth century witnessed a signi cant growth in the commercial exchanges between the European metropolises and their American dominions. One crucial feature that helped trade to expand was the increasing ow of commercial information across the Atlantic. However, this development has been studied primarily in the context of the British Atlantic, where the commercial press played a major role, as John McCusker and others have shown in great detail.1 In stark contrast, the ow of information that made Spain’s trade with its American colonies possible remains for the most part shrouded in mystery.2 ere are three main reasons for this: rst, a Spanish commercial press did not appear until very late in the century, and even then it o ered very little information on prices; second, very few early modern private business records have survived in Spain and Spanish America; and, third, historians working on the Spanish colonial trade do not seem to have shown much interest in studying the mechanisms of underlying price formation and information ow.