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Abstract

The bullion famine, manifested in chronic balance-of payments deficits with the East, is widely cited as the cause of the great depression of the Renaissance. Adapting the monetary approach to the balance-of payments model to the medieval commodity money setting this article shows that western Europe could not suffer a balance-of-payments deficit and bullion shortage simultaneously. New data show that it is unlikely that France suffered a shortage of silver from 1360 to 1415. Minting volumes diverged between regions according to economic fortunes. Excess silver stocks were likely hoarded rather than exported.

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