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Chapter Summary

Today, the idea that capital markets are a necessary precondition for economic growth is very popular. If well-functioning capital markets are indeed a characteristic of the West, setting it apart from the Third World, it is likely such markets contributed to the distinct economic development that Western Europe experienced after 1000 A.D. Surprisingly, scholars have ignored this possibility. Today, historians tend to stress the capital-intensive character of the economies of several medieval regions. Capital markets are institutional frameworks allowing debtors to contract obligations for longer than a year, which they use to accumulate capital. Capital markets funnel money from savers to investors that would otherwise remain idle. In the 17th century the Dutch Republic was the centre of capitalism in Europe. Historians have advanced a number of explanations for Holland's medieval commercialization.

Keywords: capital markets; debtors; economic growth; Holland; investors; Western Europe



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