The influence of the Spanish School of Economics on economic thought
The influence of the Spanish School of Economics on economic thought
On 31 January 2018, the Rafael del Pino Foundation organised the dialogue "La influencia en el pensamiento económico de la Escuela Española de Economía", with the participation of Juan Velarde, Pedro Schwartz, Vitoriano Martín, León Gómez and Ángel Fernández on the occasion of the presentation of the book La Escuela Española de Economía (Unión Editorial, 2017).
The origins of Economics as a science can be found in the Spanish scholastic authors of the 16th and 17th centuries because, as the author explains in this work, as a consequence of the discovery of America in 1492, what can be called a first globalisation took place with great migratory movements of the European population towards the New World and with a great increase in maritime transport and trade in the Atlantic Ocean, This led to the need to study the moral disputes arising from colonisation and market transactions and, consequently, led to the correct identification of most of the economic principles in the works of Spanish scholastic authors. Despite the wars, the scholastic ideas of Spanish authors were transmitted throughout Europe and America thanks to Latin as the common language of the academic world of the time and the use of printing technology that allowed the publication of a large number of books.
Ángel Manuel Fernández Álvarez holds a PhD in Economics and Business Administration, an International Executive MBA and is an engineer. He is a civil servant in the State Corps of Naval Engineers and works in the State Secretariat of Finance of the Ministry of Finance and Public Function. He is a member of the Research Group on the History of Economic Thought of the Department of Economic History and Institutions I of the Complutense University of Madrid (UCM) and of the Research Group on the Thought of the School of Salamanca of the Francisco de Vitoria University, which receives a grant from the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness for the R&D project with reference number FFI2017-84435-P and title "Society, Politics and Economy: Projections of Spanish Scholasticism in British and Anglo-Saxon Thought".
Juan Velarde Fuertes is considered one of the most important and influential Spanish economists. He stands out in the fields of Spanish and Latin American economics, social security and Spanish thought, as well as showing his wide knowledge in a multitude of subjects. He studied Economics in Madrid, in the first promotion of these studies in Spain. In 1951, he joined the National Labour Inspection Corps, under the Ministry of Labour. In 1956 he obtained his doctorate with an Extraordinary Prize. Years later, he devoted himself to teaching in the faculty where he had studied and in 1960 he became Professor of "Economic Structure and Institutions" at the University of Barcelona. From 1964 onwards, he taught "Applied Economics" at the Complutense University of Madrid, where he holds the title of Emeritus Professor. In addition, during the period 1974-1977 he was Rector of the Universidad Hispanoamericana Santa María de la Rábida. He has been a full member of the Royal Academy of Moral and Political Sciences since 1978 and its president since 16 December 2014, as well as Doctor "Honoris Causa" from the Universities of Alicante, Oviedo, Pontificia de Comillas, Valladolid and Seville. Since 1991, he has been an Advisor to the Court of Auditors and in 1998 Juan Velarde was appointed President of the Forum for Freedom and Quality in Education. ). He is Honorary President of the Diego de Covarrubias Centre. Since 2001, he has been an honorary member of AECA (Spanish Association of Accounting and Business Administration). He currently collaborates with the magazine Época, where he writes a weekly article on political or economic matters.
Pedro Schwartz holds a PhD in Law from the Universidad Complutense de Madrid and obtained his MA and PhD in Political Science from the London School of Economics. He has been president of the Mont Pèlerin Society and founder and member of numerous institutions dedicated to the defence of freedom, including the Centre for European Policy Studies, the Liberales Institut and the Cato Institute. He is a full member of the Royal Academy of Moral and Political Sciences and Rafael del Pino Professor at the Camilo José Cela University.
Victoriano Martin Martin holds a PhD in Economics from the Universidad Complutense de Madrid and is Professor of History of Economic Thought at the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos. He has been director of the Department of Economic History and Institutions and Moral Philosophy at the URJC, as well as director of the Laureano Figuerola Seminar on Economic Thought and Moral Philosophy. He currently teaches at the Permanent Seminar on the History of Economic Thought at the Catholic University of Avila. On 13 November 2013, he took up his place as Full Academician in the section of Political Science and Economics, medal no. 27 of the Royal Academy of Doctors of Spain, with an entrance speech on: Political philosophy and monetary theory in medieval Europe and its reflection in Juan de Mariana. He currently directs the Luis de Molina Study Centre at the Catholic University of Ávila, where he promotes knowledge of the thought of the Spanish scholastics of the 16th century.
León Gómez Rivas holds a PhD in Modern History and Economics from the Complutense University. He works as a Lecturer at the Universidad Europea de Madrid, teaching History and Economic Thought. His research topics deal with the political and economic thought of the second Spanish scholasticism, as analysed in his thesis on The School of Salamanca, Hugo Grotius and the origins of economic liberalism in Great Britain. He is a member of the Mont Pelerin Society, the Diego de Covarrubias Centre and various associations of history and economics teachers. Invited by the Liberty Fund Colloquia, he has travelled several times to the Francisco Marroquín University in Guatemala, with which he collaborates on the Scholastic Site. External evaluator of journals such as Procesos de Mercado, Hispania, Empresa y Humanismo, Revista de Historia Económica and Estudios de Economía Aplicada. He has recently completed a Bachelor's Degree in Theology at the San Dámaso Ecclesiastical University.
The School of Salamanca has always been referred to as the centre of the renaissance of thought, during the Golden Age, carried out by a group of Spanish and Portuguese professors, especially theologians, as a result of the intellectual and pedagogical work carried out by Francisco de Vitoria at the University of Salamanca. One of the fields in which these thinkers worked was economics, with important contributions from such prominent figures as Francisco Suárez, Domingo de Soto and Juan de Mariana, among others. But were there other thinkers dealing with the same subjects in other parts of Spain at the same time, and was there any common denominator in their thinking? Could we properly speak of a Spanish School of Economics? To shed light on this question, the Rafael del Pino Foundation brought together Pedro Schwartz Girón, Rafael del Pino professor at the Camilo José Cela University and member of the Royal Academy of Moral and Political Sciences, at its headquarters on 31 January 2018; Juan Velarde Fuertes, Emeritus Professor and President of the Royal Academy of Moral and Political Sciences; Victoriano Martín Martín Martín, Emeritus Professor of History of Economic Thought and member of the Royal Academy of Doctors, and Ángel Fernández Álvarez, author of the book "The Spanish School of Economics", in a dialogue on this subject. Ángel Fernández defended the reason for speaking of a Spanish School of Economics, insofar as, although its beginnings took place in the Convent of San Esteban of the University of Salamanca by the Dominican Father Francisco de Vitoria, there were also thinkers who studied and worked in other Spanish universities such as Alcalá de Henares, Valencia, Palencia, Valladolid and Seville. Fernández claimed the use of this term to encompass the broad group of scholastic authors who identified in their works the principles of economic growth and the inclusive and integrating institutions that characterise a civilised society when dealing with moral questions and disputes as a consequence of the process of colonisation and Christianisation of America. Following the discovery of America in 1492, Spain led what can be considered a first globalisation with large migratory movements of the European population to the New World and a great increase in shipping and trade in the Atlantic Ocean. This led to the need to study the moral disputes arising from colonisation and market transactions and, consequently, led to the correct identification of most of the economic principles that we take for granted today, but which first appeared in the works of the Spanish scholastic authors. Their ideas were transmitted throughout Europe and America, thanks to Latin as the common language of the academic world of the time and also to the use of the printing press, which made it possible to publish and disseminate a large number of books. The Spanish empire was of monumental size, as Juan Velarde recalled, and in its midst were developed fundamental ideas for the development of the market economy. These ideas, however, did not take root in Spain due to the lack of interest shown by Spanish universities in a branch of knowledge as fundamental to economics as mathematics. The Scholastics established the intellectual foundations of capitalism, but they lacked the scientific apparatus. The Scholastics were courageous authors, especially Juan de Mariana, who defended such controversial ideas as tyrannicide as the last resort response to totalitarianism, importance, or the right of rebellion when the limit of private property is exceeded, although the Duke of Lerma sent him to prison for his denunciation of the adulteration of the currency that the king's favourite was carrying out. Francisco de Vitoria, recalled Pedro Schwartz, revived the economic and constitutional discussion, following in the tradition of Thomas Aquinas. Scholasticism, considered too formal, had been set aside for decades, but European universities took up this framework of study again, moving away from positivism and recovering reflection on natural matters. This development was especially profound in Spain, at the University of Salamanca and other centres. His legacy left an important theological inheritance. However, we must be careful when studying the studies of scholastic authors, he warned, as we cannot fall into scientific patriotism. The contributions to economic thought made by all these thinkers were much less profound than their reflections on other issues, such as the constitutional limits of power. Another reason for caution is that, although all of them spoke in favour of trade, they did not mount a strong opposition to the protectionism of the time. The figure of Juan de Mariana is of enormous importance for his ability to condense ideas into small volumes and for his courage in defending different ideas, Victoriano Martín pointed out, although he warned that, although Mariana's ideas on monetary theory are very important, they ultimately come from the scholars of the University of Paris and their work on coinage.
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