Venice’s genius was to grasp the laws of supply and demand, based on centuries of mercantile activity, and to obey them with unmatched efficiency. The secret lay in regularity. Venetian merchants lived with an acute sense of time. The clocks in Saint Mark’s Square and in the Rialto fixed the pattern of the working day. On a larger scale the annual pattern of voyaging was dictated by seasonal rhythms far beyond the confines of Europe. The metronomic cycle of monsoon winds over the Indian subcontinent set in motion a series of interconnecting trading cycles, like the meshing cogs in an enormous mechanism, which moved goods and gold all the way from China to the North Sea.