Economy of the Ming Dynasty

The economy of the Ming Dynasty(1368-1662)Thing dynasty at that time had the best economy in the world. This period of times were one of the 3 golden ages.This period of time was know for its increase in Chinas political view and a big advance in tecnology.


By alaak

the Ming were using silver as a Medium of exchange in their economy. This is because during this period of time there was a massive overflow in the income of silver in China. The amount of silver used by the Ming economy was extraordinary; the Zheng clan, which was a major clan of merchants in the late Ming, regularly engaged in transactions of several million taels, at a time in which English traders considered tens of thousands of pounds an extraordinary fortune. However, both coin and paper money were used throughout the Ming dynasty. Ming demand for silver was such that at one point most of the output of the mines of Peru went straight to Ming Chinese.


The Ming manufacturing industry was more varied and advanced than that of the Song. Ming iron production surpassed all previous dynasties, with annual production of 195,000 tons a year, compared to 125,000 tons during the height of the Song Dynasty (960-1279) and 180,000 tons for the whole of 18th-century Europe. The Ming charged a 1/15 tax on all iron production.


Another key feature of the Ming manufacturing industry was privitization. Unlike the Song, in which state owned enterprises were dominant, the Ming quickly privatized their manufacturing industry. The result was a boom in production. In addition to the iron, the coal, salt, pottery, and salt industries, which had been state-owned since the Tang, were privatized. By the middle of the Ming Dynasty, powerful groups of wealthy merchants had replaced the state as the dominant movers behind Chinese industry.

Emergence of wage labor

The Ming government put an end to the mandatory forced labor by peasants used in early dynasties and replaced it with wage labor. A new class of wage laborers sprung up where none had existed before. In Jingde alone, it was reported that there were no less than 300 pottery factories, all operated by wage laborers

Trade and investment

In the early Ming, after the devastation of the war which expelled the Mongols, the Hongwu Emperor imposed severe restrictions on trade. Believing that agriculture was the basis of the economy, Hongwu favoured that industry over all else, including that of merchants. However, after his death, most of his policies were reversed by his successors. By the late Ming, the state was losing power to the very merchants which Hongwu had wanted to restrict.

The Ming dynasty also engaged in a thriving trade with both Europe and Japan. The amount of silver flowing into the Ming dynasty was estimated by Joseph Needham at 300 million taels, which is equivalent to more than 190 billion dollars in today’s money. In addition to silver, the Ming also imported many European firearms, in order to ensure the modernity of their weapons.

Trade and commerce thrived in this liberalized economy, and was aided by the construction roads and briges by the Ming government. The Ming saw the rise of several merchant clans such as the Huai and Jin clans, who disposed of large amounts of wealth. The genry and merchant classes started to fuse, and the merchants gained power at the expense of the state. Some merchants were reputed to have a treasure of 30 million taels.


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