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The Making of a Market

Credit, Henequen, and Notaries in Yucatán, 1850–1900

Juliette, Levy

Publication Year: 2012

During the nineteenth century, Yucatán moved effectively from its colonial past into modernity, transforming from a cattle-ranching and subsistence-farming economy to a booming export-oriented agricultural economy. Yucatán and its economy grew in response to increasing demand from the United States for henequen, the local cordage fiber. This henequen boom has often been seen as another regional and historical example of overdependence on foreign markets and extortionary local elites. In The Making of a Market, Juliette Levy argues instead that local social and economic dynamics are the root of the region’s development. She shows how credit markets contributed to the boom before banks (and bank crises) existed and how people borrowed before the creation of institutions designed specifically to lend. As the intermediaries in this lending process, notaries became unwitting catalysts of Yucatán’s capitalist transformation. By focusing attention on the notaries’ role in structuring the mortgage market rather than on formal institutions such as banks, this study challenges the easy compartmentalization of local and global relationships and of economic and social relationships.

Published by: Penn State University Press


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Title Page, Copyright Page

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Table of Contents

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pp. v-vi

List of Figures and Tables

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-x

Writing this book was both an exploration of its subject and a personal reminder of the many people, institutions, and networks that support and encourage productivity. It really does take a village of advisors, archivists, librarians, colleagues, friends, family, and a dog or two to write a book...

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Chapter 1: Introduction

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pp. 1-15

In developed capital markets, financial intermediaries and banks have almost become synonymous. Today, people deposit their savings with banks, make use of their payment facilities, invest through their brokerage offices, get cash at electronic tellers, and apply for mortgages by filling out standardized forms. Banks are ubiquitous financial institutions...

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Chapter 2: The Local Becomes Global: From Caste War to Henequen Boom

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pp. 16-33

The growth of Yucatán’s economy and mortgage market did not happen in a vacuum. The nineteenth-century transformation of Yucatán was born out of local and global changes: the local adjustments to national independence and the revolution in the global commodity markets. The outcome in Yucatán of these twin developments was the growth of large-scale...

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Chapter 3: Usury, Ethnicity, and the Market: National Laws and Local Effects

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pp. 34-53

Credit is a ubiquitous feature of society, which regulated it and developed social mores to manage it well before banks and bank charters and banking regulations. In fact, usury laws are historically some of the oldest credit regulations used to control the fl ow and the price of credit. This chapter focuses on the conditions and circumstances under which credit existed...

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Chapter 4: What Do Notaries Do?: The Formal and Informal Roles of Notaries

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pp. 54-85

The agricultural boom altered Yucatán’s financial infrastructure, and notaries became the conduits to long-term finance in the state. While large agricultural trading houses secured trade credit from foreign brokers, and smaller producers raised short-term credit with letters of credit and IOUs, long-term credit continued to be a personal transaction. Mortgages were...

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Chapter 5: Credit the Wife: Marital Property Regimes and Credit Markets

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pp. 86-107

Laws and property rights play an essential role in the functioning of credit markets.1 In the case of mortgages, which were by definition secured by land, the credit market was determined by the structure of property rights, including the mechanisms that determine how, within what parameters, and by whom the asset can be used. Moreover, in credit markets, which...

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Chapter 6: Monopoly, Continuity, and Change: The Case of José Anacleto Patrón Zavalegui

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pp. 108-123

The role of notaries, from the Spanish colony to the independent republic’s banking system, highlights the capitalist transformation of Yucatán. Notaries became financial intermediaries of this transformation, as Yucatán’s private mortgage market—effectively the precursor to the formal credit market that banks would eventually become—developed in their...

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Chapter 7: Conclusion

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pp. 124-128

For the better part of human history, banks were not the most important financial intermediaries, and in many parts of the world today, banks are far from being the only one.1 Although capital markets and banks have become essentially synonymous in many places, banks are not accessible to many potential users; instead, lenders and borrowers may interact through nonbank intermediaries such as rotating savings associations or microfinance...

Appendix: Regression Analysis from Chapter 5

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pp. 129-134


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pp. 135-148


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pp. 149-158


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pp. 159-164

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9780271053967
E-ISBN-10: 0271053968
Print-ISBN-13: 9780271052137
Print-ISBN-10: 0271052139

Page Count: 176
Publication Year: 2012

OCLC Number: 809317626
MUSE Marc Record: Download for The Making of a Market

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Subject Headings

  • Credit -- Mexico -- Yucatán (State).
  • Notaries -- Mexico -- Yucatán (State) -- History -- 19th century.
  • Yucatán (Mexico : State) -- Economic conditions -- 19th century.
  • Henequen (Plant) -- Mexico -- Yucatán (State).
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