Information asymmetry and the speed of adjustment: debasements in the mid‐sixteenth century

Ling‐Fan Li
Published Online:
17 Apr 2015
Volume/Issue No:
Volume 68 Issue 4

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This article examines the impact of information asymmetry on the movement of London–Antwerp exchange rates against the backdrop of the Great Debasement of 1544–51. The case of the revaluation of gold coins in the Habsburg Netherlands in 1539, about which the sovereign and the public possessed similar information, is used as the benchmark to judge how far the speed of adjustment was affected by information asymmetry. This article is also part of the recent literature that estimates the degree of financial market integration in late medieval and early modern Europe. In the framework of the threshold autoregressive model, the speed of adjustment and the transaction costs associated with arbitrage are estimated, and the results are judged using the speed of communication as a benchmark since the flow of information played a critical role in financial arbitrage. The results reveal that the sixteenth‐century London–Antwerp exchange markets were already as integrated as that during the late nineteenth century, but information asymmetry severely disturbed the effectiveness of exchange arbitrage.

© Economic History Society 2015

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