Mercantilism

An economic doctrine which states that a primary determinant of a nation's wealth is international trade and commerce. In particular it demands that polices that spur exports be enacted while limiting imports.

Mercantilism dominated Western European economic policy and discourse from the 16th to late-18th centuries. Mercantilism was a cause of frequent European wars in that time and motivated colonial expansion. However, this type of system cannot be maintained forever, because the global economy would become stagnant if every country wanted to export and no one wanted to import. After a period of time, many people began to revolt against the idea of mercantilism and stressed the need for free trade. The continued pressure resulted in the implementation of laissez faire economics in the 19th century.