Economic theory often referred, also in the not-so-recent past, to the concepts of trends, cycles and fluctuations and studied the origins and features of the economy's undulating movements. However, during the first part of the XXth centuty, this theme benefited from a significant development of analysis by means of several fruitful studies. As clarified more than half a century ago: «Of such works some are historical or descriptive in character, others are analytical with a deductive base, others are analytical as well, but based on induction, having the aim to gather and elaborate a problem’s main data; other still are summaries with the purpose of constructing the fluctuation theory, both by induction and deduction». These words by Marco Fanno came back to the Author’s memory when he had to tackle the research on a Cadiz-based commercial enterprise in a long timeframe, between the first half of the XVIIIth and the second half of the XIXth century. The duties undertaken, once the archive in Cadiz was found and examined, had no intention to be limited to the reconstruction of one specific endeavor, however rich and complex that might be; on the contrary, it pursued the goal to integrate the evolution of the entrepreneurial deeds in the Cadiz – and Spanish – background of the time. Therefore, choosing an inductive method had not the purpose of restricting the perspective of the study to entrepreneurial microhistory; on the contrary, it became the cornerstone of something much more complex and meaningful: starting from a single case, featuring an uniquely consistent archive source and value to lend (or subtract) credibility to the analysis carried out on trade in Cadiz up to that point, hopefully giving some new tools to interested scholars and readers. Such a setup has been confirmed also by Robert H. Parker’s classification of accounting sources within historical research. In such a context, the importance of those resources came into the limelight not only on behalf of the observation of entrepreneurial performance, of the evolution of accounting methods or of the information on extra-economic methods, but also concerning a reconnaissance of those “economically relevant events, on the macro rather than the micro side”, as told by PierAngelo Toninelli. The primary source of the research, i.e. the archive of the “González de la Sierra” firm gave the main tools to carry out this survey, allowing the Author to rely on such quantitative and qualitative methods as to succeed in focusing the complex endeavor of a commercial enterprise during well more than a century and to compare and adapt it to the flow of Cadiz economy during the same timeframe. It is indeed true that, according to Witold Kula, «when good documents are available, some significant indexes may be built». However, concerning the aforementioned goals of the research, a preliminary evaluation of the reliability of the sample and of its effective representativeness of the economic milieu it was in had to be carried out. Speaking of which, the “González de la Sierra” firm, despite not being one of the bigger in the Cadiz-based trade and rather settling on an intermediate level, appeared full of those feature commonly associated with the brokerage activities of the city. Therefore, this firm represented a meaningful item of analysis and study, not only for the size of the available archive sources and the width of the period they cover but also because of the compliance it showed to the commercial model singling out Cadiz in the 1700s and 1800s. On this specific point, detailing the study of the firms’ activities, describing the various forms of activities it entailed, seemed the most sensible choice. This analysis tackled both the more strictly commercial phenomena (such as importing foodstuffs from overseas and trading them in different markets, both home and abroad; the export of European products to the colonies and the other American territories; the huge variety of the traded goods and of the activities the firm carried out; the detection of the price and quantities of the traded goods) and those concerning management and finance (the dissemination of shops by the firm on Cadiz’s territory; the buildup of a real distribution network covering the whole of Spain and involving important representatives abroad; the adoption of management mechanisms very similar to those of a holding, despite the permanence of a backwards juridical status and scarce investments; the reliance on credit by means of the traditional instruments financing commerce and the prevalent use of human resources in carrying out entrepreneurial activities; the participation of the Cadiz-based firm to insurance and maritime transport initiatives). However, a fundamental part of the research has been based on the examination of the firm’s accounting books, looking for an index able to represent the overall activities, their income and outcomes, in order to reach an effective comparative summary. Carrying out this research allowed the reconstruction of, among other values, the net profits of the Cadiz-based firm for about a century, singling out such a variable as an essential internal indicator of the company’s doings, but also as an early element to verify and assess those phenomena affecting Cadiz’s economy during its transition phase from maximum prosperity to decline. At the end of such an effort in gathering, aggregating processing and interpreting the data concerning the company, an effective tool for comparison has been searched, in order to verify and assess the trends in income of the Cadiz-based company, compared with the fluctuations in Spanish economy, particularly that part thereof strictly linked with overseas trade. After careful evaluation, the author chose to employ Sardá’s wholesale prices index which, albeit not recent in construction, appeared as the more apt and trustworthy parameter to proceed with the comparison and rate it as useful for Cadiz’s trade, by virtue of its mixed composition and the presence of values concerning both home foodstuff and overseas goods. The outcome of the aforementioned comparison allowed a wider evaluation of the conclusions reached in analyzing Cadiz-based trade and the evolution of the “González de la Sierra” company, showing how the dynamics of profit approaches those of the economic cycle, of which prices are an essential indicator. This volume is divided four parts. The first concerns itself with detailing Atlantic trade and the mercantile role of Cadiz in it during the XVIII and XIX centuries. The second part is dedicated to the main facts concerning the origin and development of the “González de la Sierra” trading company. The third part focuses on the period of maximum prosperity enjoyed by the Cadiz-based company within local economy. The fourth and last part describes the final period of the company’s activity, during Cadiz’s decline and offering a general evaluation of Spanish commercial bourgeoisie.
|Titolo:||Mercado y empresa en Europa. La empresa González de la Sierra en el comercio gaditano entre los siglos XVIII y XIX|
|Data di pubblicazione:||2010|
|Appare nelle tipologie:||3.1 Monografia o trattato scientifico|