Merchant ethics and economic development - Up to the nineteenth century, merchants extended networks of subsidiaries, correspondents and investments world-wide, becoming a major trigger of innovation and economic development. To guarantee the functioning of their international merchant houses, they had to adhere to a strict moral code. The resulting "moral communities" diffused everywhere the "merchant´s liberty": working to fulfil oneself, striving to obtain economic independence and richness as social recognition. As the Ancien Régime neared its end, merchants were ready to economically and morally guide society into a new era. At the same time as many discussed the noblesse commerçante, though, philosophers and economists ridiculed merchant virtues, transforming merchants in men bent only on profit and self-interest. The industrialist, so, became the bourgeoisie´s myth and merchant ethics vanished from the agenda of historians and economists alike. Industrialization thusly lost one of its main characters and economy missed a catalyst of innovation and social capital formation.
Keywords: Ethics; merchant; XIX century; industrialization.