Guilds, Price Formation and Market Structures in Byzantium

1st Edition

George C. Maniatis

Published January 28, 2009
Reference - 412 Pages
ISBN 9780754659914 - CAT# Y237806
Series: Variorum Collected Studies

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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.

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