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Born May 16, 1641, in London; died there Dec. 31, 1691. English merchant and economist.
North lived in Turkey for many years. During the reign of Charles II (1660–85) he was sheriff of London, and later a commissioner of customs. An economic theorist of the period of disintegration of mercantilism, North argued that the wealth of a country is not determined by its gold and silver reserves but rather by the development of its industry, agriculture, and international trade. Considering capitalist development a natural process, he favored free trade and opposed state intervention in economic life. He established that the level of the interest rate is fixed by supply and demand rather than by the amount of currency in circulation. K. Marx described North as “one of the most prominent theoretical economists of his time” (K. Marx and F. Engels, Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 25, part 2, p. 161).