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vi - Economics and Fiscal Policy

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 November 2020

David W. Carrithers
Affiliation:
University of Tennessee, Chattanooga
Philip Stewart
Affiliation:
Duke University, North Carolina
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Summary

In Memorandum on the Debts of State (1715) Montesquieu explains how to curb France’s debt crisis stemming principally from Louis XIV’s war-mongering. Rather than recommending declaration of bankruptcy, he proposes a gradual reduction of the debt by means of a partial repudiation. The greater the proportion of an individual’s overall wealth invested in the crown’s debt, the less the reduction would be, since such individuals would have fewer other investments. Montesquieu was confident his debt reduction plan would succeed and predicted the king would be able to reduce taxes. In his Considerations on the Wealth of Spain (1727–1728) he explains that the main reason for the collapse of Spain as a powerhouse in modern Europe was that the Spanish became the victims of inflation. The more bullion brought to Spain’s shores, the less valuable it became since more and more specie chased roughly the same amount of goods.

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Chapter
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Montesquieu
Discourses, Dissertations, and Dialogues on Politics, Science, and Religion
, pp. 206 - 223
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2020

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