The benefits of mercantilism include increased employment, the development of new technologies and products, and positive cultural exchanges as mercantilist nations seek new markets and raw material sources, whereas the disadvantages of the system include increased conflict between nations, growth in trade protectionism and the development of trade monopolies. The Library of Economics and Liberty defines mercantilism as a form of nationalism aimed at building a wealthy and powerful state.
The philosophy is based on the belief that maximizing exports and minimizing imports is the best route to national prosperity. Mercantilism dominated the economic policies of many European countries from the period between the 16th century and the late 18th century. According to the Library of Economics and Liberty, the philosophy led to the reduction of barter trade as countries switched to bullion-based monetary systems. Mercantilism also sparked a huge increase in the volume and breadth of trade between countries, and it contributed to the growth of colonialism. A gradual decline in the contribution of agriculture to national wealth was another result of the policy. Mercantilism contributed to the development of full-time standing armies and navies because mercantilist nations scrambled to protect markets and sources of raw materials.
The philosophy is largely discredited. As explained by Wikipedia, its fall from grace can be traced to the rise in importance of capitalism, a philosophy championed by Adam Smith. He is considered by many as the father of modern economics.