De aprendiz a mercader : el factor en el comercio internacional inglés del siglo XVI

Juan Lanero Fernández, Eduardo Ortega Montes

Resumen


La aparición de la figura del factor está relacionada con el surgimiento del mercader sedentario. El empleo de factores pasó a ser necesario cuando un mercader aumentaba la escala de sus operaciones y cuando comerciaba con varios países al mismo tiempo. Los factores que vivían y trabajaban en el extranjero eran empleados de sociedades por acciones, mercaderes o consorcio de mercaderes. El factor en sentido genuino podía alternar sus funciones de agente comisionado con el comercio por cuenta propia. El uso de aprendices como factores, al final de una etapa de aprendizaje, parece que fue una práctica corriente. Los enviaban al extranjero para que adquiriesen experiencia y completasen su educación comercial. El aprendiz no podía comerciar por cuenta propia sin el permiso del patrón que, en cierto modo, era responsable de las acciones de sus aprendices. El conocimiento que tenía el factor del mercado extranjero influía en el patrón a la hora de decidir qué mercancía exportar. Los factores, además de redactar cartas, debían llevar la contabilidad, lo que implicaba conocimientos de teneduría de libros, cambio de divisas y letras de cambio. Las condiciones del comercio exterior fueron acrecentando la responsabilidad del factor y creando nuevos problemas de representación que no tienen equivalencia en otras relaciones comerciales de la época.

The appearance of factors was related to the new figure of sedentary merchants. Factors became necessary when a merchant increased the bulk of his operations and when they traded with various countries at a time. Factors living and working abroad were employed by societies, individual merchants or groups of merchants. A genuine agent could alternate his duties as a commissioned agent with his own trading activities. It was usual that apprentices played the role of factors towards the end of their period of apprenticeship. They were sent overseas in order to gain experience and complete their commercial education. An apprentice could not trade for his own without his merchant's permission who, to certain extent, was responsible for the apprentices' actions. The knowledge an agent had about a foreign market used to have an influence on the merchant's decision about which goods should be exported. Factors, apart from writing letters, should keep books of accounts, which implied a knowledge of bookkeeping, foreign currencies and bills of exchange. Foreign trade conditions increased factors' responsibilities and created new representation problems which have no equivalence in other commercial relations of the period.

Palabras clave


Mercader; Factor; Comercio exterior; Compañía; Merchant; Agent; Foreign trade; Company

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Referencias


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.18002/pec.v0i5.714

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