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Wealth

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  • Meacci, Ferdinando

Abstract

The notion of wealth appears and reappears in Ricardo’s works within three different sets of arguments. One is concerned with the distinction between wealth and value, another with the causes of the progress of wealth, the third with the consequences of this progress on the trend of natural wages, profit and rent. Ricardo deals with these subjects sometimes in agreement and sometimes in disagreement with Smith. The agreement reaches a climax on the notion of wealth as such as well as on the causes of its progress while the disagreement ramifies into the foundations both of that distinction and of the resulting conclusions on the trend of natural wages, profits and rent. This entry will focus on the details of Ricardo’s agreements and disagreements with Smith on the subject of wealth as distinct from the close subject of value. We will prove that, except for some minor differences, Ricardo’s notion of wealth is the same as Smith’s. As such, it is used by Ricardo as synonymous with the notion of the “annual produce of the land and labour”, or of the “necessaries, conveniences and amusements of human life”, available in a country in a period. This coincidence permeates Ricardo’s theory of wealth in so far as this theory is focused on the progress, as distinct from the distribution, of wealth. Thus, starting from a similar theory of wealth but from a very different theory of value, Ricardo develops some of his criticisms of Adam Smith’s theory on the basis of his distinction between value and riches (wealth) as well as of his exclusive notion of rent as a price paid to the owner of land “for the use of its original and indestructible powers”. These criticisms are consistent with Ricardo’s starting point on value as labour embodied and are in contrast with Smith’s different starting point on value as labour commanded. A draft of this paper has been submittted for publication in the Elgar Companion to David Ricardo, edited by H. Kurz and N. Salvadori, E. Elgar, forthcoming

Suggested Citation

  • Meacci, Ferdinando, 2013. "Wealth," MPRA Paper 55496, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised Mar 2014.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:55496
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    File URL: https://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/55496/1/MPRA_paper_55496.pdf
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    Other versions of this item:

    • Meacci, Ferdinando, 1998. "Wealth," MPRA Paper 14713, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 15 Apr 2009.

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Heinz D. Kurz & Neri Salvadori (ed.), 1998. "The Elgar Companion to Classical Economics," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, volume 0, number 851.
    2. Lauderdale, James Maitland, 1819. "An Inquiry into The Nature and Origin of Public Wealth and into the Means and Causes of its Increase," History of Economic Thought Books, McMaster University Archive for the History of Economic Thought, edition 2, number lauderdale1819.
    3. Smith, Adam, 1776. "An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations," History of Economic Thought Books, McMaster University Archive for the History of Economic Thought, number smith1776.
    4. Ferdinando Meacci, 1989. "Irving Fisher and the Classics on the Notion of Capital: Upheaval and Continuity in Economic Thought," History of Political Economy, Duke University Press, vol. 21(3), pages 409-424, Fall.
    5. Smith, Adam, 2008. "An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations: A Selected Edition," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199535927 edited by Sutherland, Kathryn.
    6. Meacci, Ferdinando, 1998. "Value and Riches," MPRA Paper 14715, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 15 Apr 2009.
    7. Meacci, Ferdinando, 2010. "On Smith's ambiguities on value and wealth," MPRA Paper 28866, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Wealth; Value; Rent; Ricardo; Smith;

    JEL classification:

    • B1 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought through 1925
    • B12 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought through 1925 - - - Classical (includes Adam Smith)
    • B3 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought: Individuals

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