Working Paper BETA #2023-21

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Title : On the existence of a French school of the science of commerce (1751-1759)

Author(s) : Jean Daniel Boyer

Abstract : Often considered merely as a circle, the Gournay network was in fact a true school of economic thought that sought to develop and promote the science of commerce with the aim of reforming the French monarchy and transforming it into a commercial, colonial and maritime power, capable of overcoming the power of England. All its members followed the principles laid down by Gournay; all proposed the same scheme. Gournay’s school would thus be the concrete expression of the French mercantile system; i.e. the form that French mercantilism took in the 1750s. Its main objective was to generate trade surpluses, which would contribute to lower interest rates and so catalyse economic growth, increasing the prosperity and power of the French state.

Key-words : Balance of men, balance of power, balance of trade, Gournay, mercantile system, science of commerce, school of thought

JEL Classification : A11; A13; B11; E43; F02; F54; O24.