An Explanation of the British's Stuggles to Finance the War with Napoleonic France in The British Balance of Payments

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The article written by Javier Cuenca Esteban, “The British balance of payments, 1772-1820: India transfers and war finance” focuses on the British ability to finance the wars with Napoleonic France. Esteban challenges the academic state of debate regarding the importance of exports on British Industrialization by pointing out that he believes without the exports from India, Britain would have struggled to finance her wars with France and may have never become the incubator of Industrialization. His argument comes back to the numbers he presents projecting the gap between foreign indebtedness actual and counterfactual would increase from 1802 to 1815 by over ninety million British pound sterling. The significant increase in debt was…show more content…
Esteban sets the value of his calculations by creating an average of pre-existing calculations for the earliest time frame of 1772-1775 of net British debts. He relies mainly on figures derived from Walter Nash and Albert H. Imlah, both of which are Economic British Historians. The author then begins to advance each line according to their own specific histories. For instance he takes into account the raise of tariffs on certain products such as tobacco that would affect the quantity of illegal imports, thus affecting the real credit value. The author also goes into great detail to compensate for the stated inaccuracies of some numbers, by showing how numbers counter-balance one another to give an accurate final account of net credits. In the appendix he goes into great depth to explain each category as well as giving a price evidence for numerous specific commodities traded between Britain and India during this time period.
Esteban concludes with acknowledging the weaker values for some of the credits. He makes it clear the entire process of the time period moving from mercantilism to industrialization within the time frame and the wars with France created extremely complex range of scenarios to explain the balance of payments. He points out research in the areas of wealthy immigrants’ transfers and net incomes, as well as capital flow from the British West Indies remain particularly difficult to quantify. This gap in
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