This chapter discusses key business conditions that impacted business life during the Principate. These include the demand for goods and services, fueled by private purchasing power in the empire's cities; the nature and operation of business enterprises, contracts, agents, and property transactions as molded by Roman law; the sources and conditions of labor; and the status of business and its practitioners. Roman wealth was a vital aspect of the Principate's business environment. By this time, Rome held much of the Western world's wealth. Some belonged to the state; most of the rest belonged to no more than 200,000 people. Roman law also had a major impact on business by reducing the cost of transactions among strangers. With regards to status, society tended to view businessmen with disdain. Business owners, however, did not share society's contempt for their work.
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