Guilds, Price Formation and Market Structures in Byzantium
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The essays reproduced in this volume analyze the guild system in Byzantium and the West, and investigate for the first time the process of price formation in Byzantium. Innovative approaches are devised to fathom the conceptual basis, institutional parameters, market organization and structures, and market dynamics which shaped price determination. Correlatively, it is persuasively established that the Byzantine guilds, unlike their counterparts in the West, did not fix prices through concerted action as they did not command the requisite market power or institutional support. Fundamentally, these studies argue that the Byzantine economy was market-oriented as the state was quite circumspect in its interventions and pursued market-based policies within a regulatory framework aimed to thwart unfair business practices, protect the consumer, curb the concentration of economic power, and prevent the emergence of monopolistic market structures. The competitive process and market mechanism were buttressed by a panoply of legal and other institutional arrangements aimed to frustrate anti-competitive practices and ensure correct business conduct --- to maintain a level playing field. Even in guild-organized sectors, the authorities did not interfere with the firms' decision-making process relying on the dynamic interaction of market forces and letting the market mechanism take hold. The long-standing notion of a command and control economy is indefensible.
Table of Contents
Contents: Introduction; Guild Organizational Structure and Scope of Operations: The domain of private guilds in the Byzantine economy, 10th to 15th centuries; The guild system in Byzantium and medieval Western Europe: a comparative analysis of organizational structures, regulatory mechanisms, and behavioral patterns. The Guild System in Action: Organization, market structure, and modus operandi of the private silk industry in 10th-century Byzantium; The organizational setup and functioning of the fish market in 10th-century Constantinople. Price Formation and the Role of the State: Pricing of the factors of production in the Byzantine economy; Price formation in the Byzantine economy 10th to 15th centuries; Operationalization of the concept of just price in the Byzantine legal, economic and political system. Index.
Before his retirement, George C. Maniatis was Principal Economist at the World Bank, and since then has worked as an independent scholar, researching the Byzantine economy.