The Western literature on the history of Chinese economic thought is sparse, and comparisons with the history of Western economic thought even more so. This pioneering book brings together Western and Chinese scholars to reflect on the historical evolution of economic thought in Europe and China.

The international panel of contributors cover key topics such as currency, usury, land tenure, the granary system, welfare, and government, and special attention is given to monetary institutions and policies. The problem of "good government" emerges as the unifying thread of a complex analysis that includes both theoretical issues and applied economics. Chinese lines of evolution include the problem of the agency of the State, its ideological justification, the financing of public expenditure, the role played by the public administration, and the provision of credit. The early radical condemnation of usury in the Near East and in the West gives way to theoretical justifications of interest-taking in early capitalist Europe; they, in turn, lead to advances in mathematics and business administration and represent one of the origins of modern economic theory. Other uniting themes include the relationship between metallic and paper money in Chinese and European experiences and the cross-fertilization of economic practices and ideas in the course of their pluri-millennial interactions. Differences emerge; the approach to the organization of economic life was, and still is, more State-centred in China. The editors bring together these analytical threads in a final chapter, opening wider horizons for this new line of comparative economic research which is important for the understanding of modern ideological turns.

This volume provides valuable reading for scholars in the history of economic thought, economic history and Chinese studies.

part Part I|87 pages

Chinese lines of evolution

section Section 1|44 pages

The agency of the state

chapter 3|14 pages

The cost of security

Financing Yellow River hydraulics during the late imperial period
ByIwo Amelung

part Section 2|41 pages

Land, interest and usury

chapter 4|14 pages

Outline of the institutions for land transactions in traditional China

ByDenggao Long, Xiang Chi

chapter 5|14 pages

Loans and interest rates in traditional China

ByQiugen Liu

chapter 6|11 pages

Foreign currencies in ancient and premodern China

ByYaguang Zhang, Yue Bi, Zyler Wang

part Part II|95 pages

European lines of evolution

part Section 1|52 pages

From rationalisations of usury to deductive theories of interest

chapter 7|13 pages

Theorising interest

How did it all begin? Some landmarks in the prohibition of usury in Scholastic economic thought
ByIrina Chaplygina, André Lapidus

chapter 8|13 pages

Merchants and the new Catholic view on the economy

Florence and Augsburg between the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries
ByMonika Poettinger

chapter 9|14 pages

From Kaspar Klock's “De aerario” (1651) and Leibniz's “Meditatio de interusurio simplice” to Florencourt's “Abhandlungen aus der juristischen und der politischen Rechenkunst” (1781)

How calculus led from the logic of a device for circumventing the prohibition of usury to a modern theory of depreciation
ByBertram Schefold

chapter 10|10 pages

Interest on money, own rate of interest, the natural interest rate and the rate of profits

A short history of concepts ultimately emerging from the usury debate
ByVolker Caspari

part Section 2|41 pages

The spread of monetary relations and the transition from poor relief to the welfare state

chapter 11|13 pages

Labour and poverty in medieval and early modern Europe

ByCosimo Perrotta

chapter 13|14 pages

European models and transformations of the welfare state

ByHans-Michael Trautwein

part Part III|90 pages

Contact, comparison and interaction

part Section 1|43 pages

Before the revolutions

chapter 14|13 pages

Xunzi and Plato on the economics of totalitarianism

A meeting of distant minds
ByTerry Peach

chapter 15|13 pages

Yantie lun in the Pro-Legalist and Anti-Confucian Campaign

ByQunyi Liu

chapter 16|15 pages

A critical examination of Chinese influences on Quesnay

ByRichard van den Berg

part Section 2|44 pages

The traces of the past in the transition to modernity

part Part IV|28 pages

Conclusions and perspectives

chapter 20|26 pages

Towards a systematic comparison of different forms of economic thought

ByIwo Amelung, Bertram Schefold