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Bullionism is an economic theory that defines wealth by the amount of precious metals owned. Bullionism is an early or primitive form of mercantilism. It was derived, in the 16th century, from the observation that the English state possessed large amounts of gold and silver, despite the fact that there was no mining of precious metals on English soil, because of its large trade surplus.
Examples of bullionists
Thomas Milles (1550–1627) and others recommended increasing exports in order to get a trade surplus, converting it into precious metals and hindering the drain of money and precious metal to other countries. Although England practised the interdiction of exportation of £ or precious metals at about 1600, Milles desired to return to staple ports in order to force merchants from abroad to use their assets to buy English goods and to prevent them from transferring gold or silver from England homewards. But Milles may have been viewed as one who did not have any valuable words to say on the subject, as one of his contemporaries wrote: "Milles was so much out of step with the time that his pamphlets had little influence".
Gerard de Malynes (1586–1641), another bullionist, published a book called A Treatise of the Canker of England's Common Wealth, in which he asserted that the exchange of foreign currency had been a trade of value rather than exchanging the weight of metals. Therefore the unfair exchanging of precious metals by bankers and money changers, would result in the deficit of English balance of trade. In order to ban the flow of exchange rates, he demanded the strict fixing of exchange rates for coins, only by the concentration of precious metals and weights and for strict regulation and monitoring of foreign trade. But de Malynes did not convince his contemporaries “that the cambists were responsible for gold outflow or to elicit enthusiasm for a monopoly sale of exchange, par pro pari, by the royal exchanger". He did, however, succeed in stirring up one of the first economic controversies, and Edward Misselden opposed him in 1623 in his book The Circle of Commerce: Or, the Balance of Trade.