Value and Wealth

  • Gianni Vaggi
Part of the Studies in Political Economy book series (STPE)


In this chapter I will show that the physiocrats did not regard wealth and revenue as mere collections of physical quantities of primary goods, as is usually believed.1 For Quesnay the amount of consumable agricultural produce is the basis of the prosperity of the people, but only the value magnitude of wealth can be used to compare the economic power of France with that of other countries. In order to become part of the nation’s wealth products must pass through markets, where they are exchanged according to certain monetary prices. Quesnay contends that a specific concept of price — that which rules the ‘sales at first hand’ — must be employed to measure the country’s wealth. He uses this particular idea of price to deny the quality of ‘productive’ to those exchanges that take place after the first sale of a product, which he calls ‘resale trade’.


Foreign Trade Relative Price Relative Prex Fixed Capital Productive Class 
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Notes and References

  1. 5.
    See also Premier problème économique, Meek, 1962, p. 179; ibid., pp. 314, 320, 324; Herlitz, 1961a, p. 5.Google Scholar
  2. 11.
    See, for instance, Petty’s praise of the trading ability of Holland in his Political Arithmetick, etc. (see Petty, 1676, pp. 249–68).Google Scholar
  3. 14.
    See for instance what the Abbé Galiani, one of the physiocrats’ fiercest opponents, says in the Dialogues sur le commerce des bleds (Galiani 1770, pp. 178–80, 188).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Giovanni Vaggi 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gianni Vaggi
    • 1
  1. 1.University of PaviaItaly

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