In the Beginning:
In the post-Maurya period there was a considerable change in the economy of the country. For this change, however, the contemporary political situation was largely responsible.
In the post-Maurya period there was the fragmentation of political power. Alongside the absence of central power the state- control of economy of the Mauryan period also came to an end.
Under the Guptas once again there was the emergence of a central political authority. But in economy the most important feature was the absence of state-control.
The result was that there was the scope for individual initiatives in agriculture, trade and industry.
In agriculture tremendous growth was noticeable in the early period of the Gupta rule. It is known from various sources that different crops were grown.
Besides, plenty of cash-crops were grown. Pliny, the Greek writer, was surprised observing the huge production of cotton.
During the Gupta period there was also advancement in the artisan industry. In Buddhist texts there is reference to various artisan industries such as carpentry, weaving and such other things.
Contemporary sources refer to circulation of large number of gold coins by the Gupta kings. This definitely points to the economic progress under the Guptas.
The progress was largely due to the regular and systematic trade relations with the Roman Empire. India used to earn gold coins in lieu of the Indian exports. The economic progress of the country continued at least up to 550 AD.
Towards the End:
Towards the end of the Gupta period there was an economic decline. The practice of land-grants, an essential feature of the Gupta economy, became rampant.
As a consequence the revenue income of the government reduced considerably. As consequence it was becoming difficult for the Gupta rulers to meet the administrative expenses.
Besides, towards the end of the Gupta rule languishing foreign trade also was responsible for the economic decline. Because of the decline in export market the inflow of gold and silver came to a stop.