Marco Polo on the Mongol State: Taxation, Predation, and Monopolization

Cavallo, Jo Ann

In Marco Polo’s Travels, the market is depicted as a voluntary means of production and exchange, leading to the creation of material abundance and wellbeing, whereas the Mongol state, by contrast, is repeatedly engaged in the extraction of wealth at the point of a sword. This paper examines Polo’s descriptions of the economic and political features of the Mongol empire through the lens of Austrian economics, with particular attention to taxes and tariffs, government spending, predation, state monopolies, currency manipulation, prohibitions and regulations, and control and surveillance.


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November 17, 2015