8.: malthus to ricardo1[Answered by 9] - David Ricardo, The Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo, Vol. 6 Letters 1810-1815 
The Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo, ed. Piero Sraffa with the Collaboration of M.H. Dobb (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2005). Vol. 6 Letters 1810-1815.
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malthus to ricardo
[Answered by 9]
East India College Hertford June 16th 1811.
One of my principal reasons for taking the liberty of introducing myself to you, next to the pleasure of making your acquaintance, was, that as we are mainly on the same side of the question, we might supersede the necessity of a long controversy in print respecting the points in which we differ, by an amicable discussion in private. I have certainly been for some time of opinion that many of the modern writers in political economy in their zeal to correct the absurd notions of the mercantile classes about the balance of trade have over-looked the real differences that exist between the precious metals and other commodities, from the circumstance of their having been adopted as a medium of exchange; and I have intended to take some opportunity of expressing this opinion in print. But if you in any degree prefer it, I will state this opinion without a specific reference to your name, though if I do mention it, it will undoubtedly be with that respect and approbation which the talents and information which you have shewn on this subject so richly merit. Having entered upon the question, my sole view in prosecuting it is to arrive at, and circulate the truth, and I had rather make any concessions to the other side, than defend any position which does not appear to me to accord with the just principles of political economy.
After the most mature reflection on all that you have written and said on this subject, I am still obliged to retain my opinion that the manner in which you have used the term redundancy conveys an incorrect impression of the fact; and that the term is by no means allowable merely because bullion may be the most advantageous commodity to export. At the very time that this export takes place there may be other commodities in the country really redundant, that is selling at prices which do not yield average profits; and yet if from having already exported many of these commodities, or from any other cause, they do not bear a higher price, or only one or two percent higher in the foreign country, I imagine that from the greater expence of exporting bulky commodities, and the greater danger of lowering the foreign market, the preference would be given to bullion although in reference to the mass of commodities it might have exactly the same value in both countries, and there is of course no comparative redundancy. In this case it goes merely because something must go to pay the debt, and other commodities not being at the time in sufficient demand to pay the proper profits even with the assistance of the premium received on the bill, the medium of exchange is resorted to which is always in such demand as not to occasion a greater loss than the price of transport and perhaps coinage.
Generally also, I cannot but be still of opinion that it must be the interest of different nations, occasionally to make use of their medium of exchange for foreign payments; and that it is much more natural and probable that an average level of the precious metals should be maintained, by a principle always ready to act in the correction of temporary fluctuations, than that no such temporary fluctuations should ever exist. On these and some other topics, I should like much to hear your opinions when we have next the pleasure of meeting. In the mean time, in reference to the general question, can you give me any information respecting the state of the computed exchange with those countries from which we have lately imported bullion Jamaica for instance. I cannot help thinking that with some of these countries the computed exchange must be unfavourable owing to our depreciated currency; but if a clear instance of this kind could be produced, it would shew at once what a large part of our unfavourable exchanges is nominal. I hope you will be able before long to pay us a visit in Hertfordshire. Would it be convenient to you on saturday or sunday next.—perhaps Horner might be able to meet you. I shall leave home for some little time the middle of the following week. Believe me with sincere respects
Your obedt servt