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Where wealth and freedom reign, contentment fails, and honour sinks where commerce long prevails. ~ Oliver Goldsmith
The more a religion is aware of its opposition in principle to economic rationalization as such, the more apt are the religion’s virtuosi to reject the world, especially its economic activities. ~ Max Weber
If a state should pass laws forbidding its citizens to become wise and holy, it would be made a byword for all time. But this, in effect, is what our commercial, social, and political systems do. They compel the sacrifice of mental and moral power to money and dissipation. ~ John Lancaster Spalding
The ascetic Gotama … avoids watching dancing, singing, music and shows. He abstains from using garlands, perfumes, cosmetics, ornaments and adornments. … He refrains from running errands, from buying and selling. ~ Gotama Buddha
Trade is the mother of money.
Thomas Draxe

Trade (or commerce) is the voluntary exchange of goods, services, or both. The original form of trade was barter, the direct exchange of goods and services. Modern traders instead generally negotiate through a medium of exchange, such as money.

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  • Where is Christ, the King? In heaven, to be sure. Thither it behooves you, soldier of Christ, to direct your course. Forget all earthly delights. A soldier does not build a house; he does not aspire to possession of lands; he does not concern himself with devious, coin-purveying trade. … The soldier enjoys a sustenance provided by the king; he need not furnish his own, nor vex himself in this regard.
  • COMMERCE, n. A kind of transaction in which A plunders from B the goods of C, and for compensation B picks the pocket of D of money belonging to E.
    • Ambrose Bierce, The Cynic's Dictionary (1906); republished as The Devil's Dictionary (1911).
  • Economists have, in fact, devoted a lot of effort to documenting how international differences in economic conditions change as national governments lower the barriers that limit trade across countries. Much of international trade theory attempts to imagine what happens when countries allow unrestricted flows of goods and capital across national boundaries. One common theme in these models, which has greatly influenced economic policy, is that the removal of restrictions on such flows increases global income and tends to equalize prices and wages across countries.
    Decades of experience with various trade liberalization policies, however, do not seem to have had as much of an impact on global income or on international wage inequality as the proponents of free trade would have expected.
  • The ascetic Gotama … avoids watching dancing, singing, music and shows. He abstains from using garlands, perfumes, cosmetics, ornaments and adornments. … He refrains from running errands, from buying and selling.
    • Gotama Buddha, Digha Nikaya, M. Walshe, trans. (1987), Sutta 1, verse 1.10, p. 69


  • The history of capitalism has been so totally re-written that many people in the rich world do not perceive the historical double standards involved in recommending free trade and free market to developing countries.
  • Britain and the US are not the homes of free trade; in fact, for a long time they were the most protectionist countries in the world. Not all countries have succeeded through protection and subsidies, but few have done so without them. For developing countries, free trade has a rarely been a matter of choice; it was often an imposition from outside, sometimes even through military power. Most of them did very poorly under free trade; they did much better when they used protection and subsidies. The best-performing economies have been those that opened up their economies selectively and gradually. Neo-liberal free-trade free-market policy claims to sacrifice equity for growth, but in fact it achieves neither; growth has slowed down in the past two and a half decades when markets were freed and borders opened.
  • The importance of international trade for economic development cannot be overemphasized. But free trade is not the best path to economic development. Trade helps economic development only when the country employs a mixture of protection and open trade, constantly adjusting it according to its changing needs and capabilities. Trade is simply too important for economic development to be left to free trade economists.
    • Ha-Joon Chang, Bad Samaritans (2008), Ch. 3: My six-year-old son should get a job; Is free trade always the answer?, More trade, fewer ideologies, p. 68.
  • Our wants are various, and nobody has been found able to acquire even the necessaries without the aid of other people, and there is scarcely any Nation that has not stood in need of others. The Almighty himself has made our race such that we should help one another. Should this mutual aid be checked within or without the Nation, it is contrary to Nature.


  • Trade is the mother of money.
    • Thomas Draxe (1633), reported in George Latimer Apperson, English proverbs and proverbial phrases: a historical dictionary (1929), p. 643.




  • The first place he went into was the Royal Exchange, .... where men of all ages and all nations were assembled, with no other view than to barter for interest. ... David ... resolved to stay no longer in a place where riches were esteemed goodness, and deceit, low cunning, and giving up all things to the love of gain were thought wisdom.
    • Sarah Fielding, The Adventures of David Simple, bk. 1, ch. 4 (1744), pp. 24-26.
  • Wisdom, virtue, morality, all these have fallen out of fashion: everybody worships at the shrine of commerce.
    • Charles Fourier, The Theory of the Four Movements (1808), G. Jones, ed. (1966), p. 269.


  • Where wealth and freedom reign contentment fails,
    And honour sinks where commerce long prevails.


  • The selfish spirit of commerce knows no country, and feels no passion or principle but that of gain.


  • The product of that city, now
    Far distant lands consume;
    The Indian wears around his brow
    The white webs of her loom.
    Her vessels sweep from East to West ;
    Her merchants are like kings ;
    While wonders in her walls attest
    The power that commerce brings.


  • Countries as well as families benefit from the ability to trade with one another. Trade allows countries to specialize in what they do best and to enjoy a greater variety of goods and services. The Japanese, as well as the French and the Egyptians and the Brazilians, are as much our partners in the world economy as they are our competitors.
    • N. Gregory Mankiw, Principle of Economics (6th ed., 2012), Ch. 1. Ten Principles of Economics.


  • One of the common means by which one nation exploits another and one that is relevant to Africa’s external relations is exploitation through trade. When the terms of trade are set by one country in a manner entirely advantageous to itself, then the trade is usually detrimental to the trading partner. To be specific, one can take the export of agricultural produce from Africa and the import of manufactured goods into Africa from Europe, North America, and Japan. The big nations establish the price of the agricultural products and subject these prices to frequent reductions. At the same time the price of manufactured goods is also set by them, along with the freight rates necessary for trade in the ships of those nations. The minerals of Africa also fall into the same category as agricultural produce as far as pricing is concerned. The whole import-export relationship between Africa and its trading partners is one of unequal exchange and of exploitation.
  • What was called international trade was nothing but the extension overseas of European interests. The strategy behind international trade and the production that supported it was firmly in European hands, and specifically in the hands of the sea-going nations from the North Sea to the Mediterranean. They owned and directed the great majority of the world’s sea-going vessels, and they controlled the financing of the trade between four continents. Africans had little clue as to the tri-continental links between Africa, Europe, and the Americas. Europe had a monopoly of knowledge about the international exchange system seen as a whole, for Western Europe was the only sector capable of viewing the system as a whole. Europeans used the superiority of their ships and cannon to gain control of all the world’s waterways, starting with the western Mediterranean and the Atlantic coast of North Africa. [...] Therefore, by control of the seas, Europe took the first steps towards transforming the several parts of Africa and Asia into economic satellites.
  • Considerable evidence supports the argument that trading state globalization has emerged as a global norm and as a widely accepted basis of state grand strategy since World War II. Since the 1940s, successive rounds of the GATT (now the TWO) have resulted in consistently lower tariff rates that have helped stimulate world trade. From 1980 to 1998, the rate of growth in world trade ranged from 4.2% to 10.3%, and from 1990 to 1999 it grew at over three times the rate of global output (World Bank 1998; World Trade Organization 2000). Moreover, financial transactions, once and adjust of trade, have grown even faster and now tower over trade flows by a ratio of 50:1.


  • Specialization and trade are the key to high living standards. By specializing, people can become highly productive in a very narrow field of expertise. People can then trade their specialized goods for others’ products, vastly increasing the range and quality of consumption and having the potential to raise everyone’s living standards.
  • Hence commerce springs, the venal interchange
    Of all that human art or Nature yield;
    Which wealth should purchase not, but want demand,
    And natural kindness hasten to supply
    From the full fountain of its boundless love,
    Forever stifled, drained and tainted now.
    Commerce! beneath whose poison-breathing shade
    No solitary virtue dares to spring.
  • Every individual necessarily labors to render the annual revenue of the society as great as he can. He generally indeed neither intends to promote the public interest, nor knows how much he is promoting it. He intends only his own gain, and he is in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention. By pursuing his own interest he frequently promotes that of the society more effectually than when he really intends to promote it. I have never known much good done by those who affected to trade for the public good.
  • Free trade may have wide support among economists, but its support among the public at large is considerably less.
    • Thomas Sowell, Basic Economics, 4th ed. (2010), Ch. 22. Overview.
  • If a state should pass laws forbidding its citizens to become wise and holy, it would be made a byword for all time. But this, in effect, is what our commercial, social, and political systems do. They compel the sacrifice of mental and moral power to money and dissipation.


  • The more a religion is aware of its opposition in principle to economic rationalization as such, the more apt are the religion’s virtuosi to reject the world, especially its economic activities.
  • The wide chasm separating the inevitabilities of economic life from the Christian ideal ... kept the most devout groups and all those with the most consistently developed ethics far from the life of trade.
  • Empirical evidence tends to show that trade liberalisation may entail non-trivial adjustment costs for certain groups.
Quotes reported in James William Norton-Kyshe, The Dictionary of Legal Quotations (1904), p. 31-35.
  • This being an island, all imaginable encouragement ought to be given to trade.
    • Harcourt, Lord Keeper, Brown v. Litton (1711), 1 P. Wms. 141.
  • The great source of the flourishing state of this kingdom is its trade and commerce.
    • Ashkurst, J., Jordaine v. Lashbrooke (1798), 7 T. R. 605.
  • The freedom of trade, like the liberty of the Press, is one thing; the abuse of that freedom, like the licentiousness of the Press, is another. God forbid that this Court should do anything that should interfere with the legal freedom of trade.
    • Grose, J., King v. Waddington (1880), 1 East, 163.
  • It is essential, when persons in trade come into this Court, that they should remember that the administration of equity is founded on perfect truth, and that if persons attempt to mislead the public by stating that which is not true, this Court will restrain them upon a clear case being made out against them.
    • Lord Romilly, M.R., Cocks v. Chandler (1871), L. R. 11 Eq. Ca. 449.
  • Some confidence there must be between merchant and manufacturer. In matters exclusively within the province of the manufacturer the merchant relies on the manufacturer's skill, and he does so all the more readily when he has had the benefit of that skill before.
    • Lord Macnaghten‎, Drummond v. Van Ingen (1887), L. R. 12 Ap. Cas. 297.
  • An energetic tradesman naturally develops and extends his business. One business runs into another, and the line of demarcation is often indistinct and undefined. The linen draper of to-day in the course of a few years may come to be the proprietor of an establishment providing everything that man wants, or woman either, from the cradle to the grave.
    • Lord Macnagkten, Tailby v. Official Receiver (1888), L. R. 13 Ap. Cas. 545.
  • The English trader is generally too much occupied with his business to devote much time to the invention of new or fancy words, and he is not always gifted with that degree of fancy which is capable of coining new words. Besides the English public is not so ready, apparently, to buy articles passing under an entirely new name, which may give rise to a suspicion of adulteration.
  • Chitty, J., In re Trade-Mark "Alpine" (1885), L. R. 29 C. D. 880.
  • The word commission sounds sweet in a merchant's ear.
    • Sir W. Scott, The Gratitudine (1801), 3 Rob. Adm. Rep. 240.
  • What is one man's gain is another's loss.
  • It must be remembered that all trade is and must be in a sense selfish; trade not being infinite, nay, the trade of a particular place or district being possibly very limited, what one man gains another loses. In the hand to hand war of commerce, as in the conflicts of public life, whether at the bar, in Parliament, in medicine, in engineering (I give examples only), men fight on without much thought of others, except a desire to excel or to defeat them. Very lofty minds, like Sir Philip Sidney with his cup of water, will not stoop to take an advantage, if they think another wants it more. Our age, in spite of high authority to the contrary, is not without its Sir Philip Sidneys; but these are counsels of perfection which it would be silly indeed to make the measure of the rough business of the world as pursued by ordinary men of business. The line is in words difficult to draw. . . .
    • John Duke Coleridge, Lord Chief Justice, Mogul Steamship Co. v. McGregor, Gow & Co. (1888), L. R. 21 Q. B. D. 553.
  • Merchants know perfectly well what they mean when they express themselves, not in the language of lawyers, but in the language of courteous mercantile communication.
    • Lord Cairns, Shepherd v. Harrison (1871), L. R. 5 Eng. & Ir. App. Cas. 133.
  • The experience we have in Courts of justice leads us to know that persons who trade without due caution often find their hopes deceived: they find in the result that they have parted with goods for which they never can obtain the money.
    • Abbott, C.J., Montague v. Benedict (1825), 3 B. & C. 673.
  • It is when merchants dispute about their own rules that they invoke the law.
    • Brett, J., Robinson v. Mollett (1875), L. R. 7 Eng. & Ir. Ap. 817.
  • The great object of the law is to encourage commerce.
    • Chambre, J., Beale v. Thompson (1803), 3 Bos. & Pull. 421.
  • It is admitted that there may be fair competition in trade, that two may offer to join and compete against a third. If so, what is the definition of fair competition? What is unfair that is neither forcible nor fraudulent.
    • Lord Bramwell, Mogul Steamship Co. v. McGregor, Gow and others (1892), 66 L. T. R. 6.
  • I should regret to find that the law was powerless to enforce the most elementary principles of commercial morality.
    • Lord Herschell, Reddaway v. Banham (1896), L. R. App. Ca. [1896], 209.
  • A trader is trusted upon his character and visible commerce: that credit enables him to acquire wealth. If by secret liens a few might swallow up all, it would greatly damp that credit.
    • Lord Mansfield, Worseley v. Demattos (1758), 1 Burr. Part IV., p. 483.
  • Men lend their money to traders upon mortgages or consignments of goods, because they suspect their circumstances, and will not run the risque of their general credit.
    • Lord Mansfield, Foxcroft v. Devonshire (1759), 2 Burr. PartrV., p 942.
  • It is the privilege of a trader in a free country, in all matters not contrary to law, to regulate his own mode of carrying it on according to his own discretion and choice.
  • Arbitrio domini res cestimari debet: The price of a thing ought to be fixed by its owner.
    • 4 Inst. 275.
  • The law merchant is a system of equity, founded on the rules of equity, and governed in all its parts by plain justice and good faith.
    • Buller, J., Master v. Miller (1791), 4 T. R. 320.
  • There are many situations in life, and particularly in the commercial world, where a man cannot by any diligence inform himself of the degree of credit which ought to be given to the persons with whom he deals; in which cases he must apply to those whose sources of intelligence enable them to give that information. The law of prudence leads him to apply to them, and the law of morality ought to induce them to give the information required.
    • Lord Kenyon, C.J., Pasley v. Freeman (1789), 3 T. R. 51.
  • An universal custom is a law, and I know no distinction between lex mercatoria and consuetudo mercaborum.
    • Holt, C.J., Cramlington v. Evans (1680), Show. 4.
  • Convenience is the basis of mercantile law.
  • When a general usage has been judicially ascertained and established, it becomes a part of the law merchant, which Courts of justice are bound to know and recognise.
    • Lord Campbell, Brandao v. Barnett (1846), 12 CI. & F. 805.
  • Nothing can fall within the custom of trade but what concerns trade.
    • Heath, J., Houghton v. Matthews (1803), 3 Bos. & Pull.494.
  • The law merchant respects the religion of different people.
  • Persons in trade had better be very cautious how they add a fictitious name to their firm, for the purpose of gaining credit.
  • A proceeding may be perfectly legal and may yet be opposed to sound commercial principles.
  • It has been uniformly laid down in this Court, as far back as we can remember, that good faith is the basis of all mercantile transactions.
    • Buller, J., Salomons v. Nissen (1788), 2 T. R. 681.
  • Prudent business men in their dealings incur risk.
    • Bacon, V.-C., In re Godfrey, Godfrey v. Faulkner (1883), L. R. 23 C. D. 493.
  • Most businesses require liberal dealing.
    • Bowen, L.J., Hutton v. West Cork Railway Co. (1883), L. R. 23 C. D. 672.
  • I have always thought it highly injurious to the public that different rules should prevail in the different Courts on the same mercantile case. My opinion has been uniform on that subject. It sometimes indeed happens that in questions of real property Courts of law find themselves fettered with rules, from which they cannot depart, because they are fixed and established rules1; though equity may interpose, not to contradict, but to correct, the strict and rigid rules of law. But in mercantile questions no distinction ought to prevail. The mercantile law of this country is founded on principles of equity; and when once a rule is established in that Court as a rule of property, it ought to be adopted in a Court of law. For this reason Courts of law of late years have said that, even where the action is founded on a tort, they would discover some mode of defeating the plaintiff, unless his action were also founded on equity; and that though the property might on legal grounds be with the plaintiff, if there were any claim or charge by the defendant, they would not consider the retaining of the goods as a conversion.
    • Buller, J., Tooke v. Hollingworth (1793), 5 T. R. 229.
  • Paper currency, guarded by proper regulations and restrictions, is the life of commerce.
  • Whether a transaction be fair or fraudulent is often a question of law: it is the judgment of law upon facts and intents.

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