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Additional resources for A Concise History of Economic Thought: From Mercantilism to Monetarism
The heterogeneity of the inputs requires relative prices, and at the same time Petty needs to measure relative values in a way which bears some relation to the production conditions of commodities. Petty suggested an interesting way to solve this problem. Suppose that for all commodities production take place in yearly cycles, so that the unit period of production is one year. Petty remarked that each production process employs as inputs labour, L0, natural resources – in short: land – T0 and commodities which have been produced in the previous year.
In the case of Britain, the exports to continental Europe, mainly wool, largely took place from well-deﬁned locations, the so-called staples, where government ofﬁcials could easily register the volume and the value of the exchanges and charge them with the appropriate duty. So what was good for the merchant seemed to be good for state ﬁnances as well, a recurring theme in Mercantilist literature. At the beginning of the sixteenth century, some important changes took place in the organisation of the economy, particularly in England and in the northern part of Europe.
Value and prices Petty analysed the causes which inﬂuence the exchange value of commodities and he clearly distinguished the permanent from the temporary causes, or as he said ‘the imaginary way of computing the prices of Commodities’ and ‘the real way’ (see Petty, 1662, pp. ) or between prices and values. The temporary causes inﬂuence the prices established in a speciﬁc day or short period on the market. They appear analogous to what Smith was to call market price, and can exhibit large oscillations from the diverse actions of sellers and buyers.