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Transactions and risk management

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Chapter Summary

Brazilian sugar entered European markets during a period of long-term expansion in intercontinental trade. It was itself a strong impetus to the development of Atlantic trade. This chapter looks at the systems of credit and risk management that made the sugar trade possible. Some of these had been in use since the middle Ages, pioneered by Italian merchants. But the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries witnessed a number of financial innovations that lowered transaction costs. This had important consequences, for without these new systems of banking, finance and maritime insurance, a trade with such a wide geographic scope could not thrive. The Brazilian sugar trade was a modern trade, not only in its merchant organization, but also in the financial transactions that allowed it to prosper over political boundaries. In fact, it was precisely in the area of investment that the inter-imperial organization of the trade was most manifest.

Keywords: Atlantic trade; Brazilian sugar trade; European markets; financial transactions; risk management



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