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The Malthus versus Ricardo 1815 Corn Laws Controversy: An appraisal


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  • Salvadori, Neri
  • Signorino, Rodolfo


The paper proposes a rational reconstruction of the arguments developed by Malthus and Ricardo in their 1815 essays, Grounds of an Opinion and An Essay on Profits, to repudiate and endorse a policy of free corn trade, respectively. Malthus envisaged defence and opulence as two mutually alternative options and, if required to make a choice, he had no doubt in choosing the former. By contrast, Ricardo excluded any alternative between defence and opulence: trade does note give a sustainable weapon to potential enemies of Great Britain whereas trade-driven opulence may give Great Britain greater means to wage a war.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 50534.

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Date of creation: 09 Oct 2013
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Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:50534

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Keywords: Malthus; Ricardo; Corn Laws; Coordination Games;

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  1. Burgstaller, Andre, 1986. "Unifying Ricardo's Theories of Growth and Comparative Advantage," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 53(212), pages 467-81, November.
  2. Findlay, Ronald, 1974. "Relative Prices, Growth and Trade in a Simple Ricardian System," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 41(161), pages 1-13, February.
  3. J. M. Pullen, 1995. "Malthus on Agricultural Protection: An Alternative View," History of Political Economy, Duke University Press, vol. 27(3), pages 517-529, Fall.
  4. Hollander, Samuel, 1992. "Malthus's Abandonment of Agricultural Protectionism: A Discovery in the History of Economic Thought," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(3), pages 650-59, June.
  5. Roy J. Ruffin, 2002. "David Ricardo's Discovery of Comparative Advantage," History of Political Economy, Duke University Press, vol. 34(4), pages 727-748, Winter.
  6. Eatwell, John L, 1975. "The Interpretation of Ricardo's Essay on Profits," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 42(166), pages 182-87, May.
  7. Samuel Hollander, 1995. "More on Malthus and Agricultural Protection," History of Political Economy, Duke University Press, vol. 27(3), pages 531-537, Fall.
  8. Maneschi, Andrea, 1983. "Dynamic Aspects of Ricardo's International Trade Theory," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 35(1), pages 67-80, March.
  9. Harsanyi, John C., 1995. "A new theory of equilibrium selection for games with complete information," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 8(1), pages 91-122.
  10. Samuel Hollander, 1977. "Ricardo and the Corn Laws: A Revision," History of Political Economy, Duke University Press, vol. 9(1), pages 1-47, Spring.
  11. Maneschi, Andrea, 1992. "Ricardo's International Trade Theory: Beyond the Comparative Cost Example," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 16(4), pages 421-37, December.
  12. Peach, Terry, 1984. "David Ricardo's Early Treatment of Profitability: A New Interpretation," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 94(376), pages 733-51, December.
  13. Cheryl Schonhardt-Bailey, 2006. "From the Corn Laws to Free Trade: Interests, Ideas, and Institutions in Historical Perspective," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262195437, January.
  14. Garegnani, P, 1982. "On Hollander's Interpretation of Ricardo's Early Theory of Profits," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 6(1), pages 65-77, March.
  15. de Vivo, Giancarlo, 1985. "Robert Torrens and Ricardo's 'Corn-Ratio' Theory of Profits," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 9(1), pages 89-92, March.
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