27.: ricardo to malthus 1[Reply to 26] - 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.
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
First published by Cambridge University Press in 1951. Copyright 1951, 1952, 1955, 1973 by the Royal Economic Society. This edition of The Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo is published by Liberty Fund, Inc., under license from the Royal Economic Society.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
ricardo to malthus
[Reply to 26]
Throgmorton Street. 22d. Octr. 1811
I am exceedingly obliged to you for the trouble which you have taken in looking over the papers which I sent you, and for the remarks which you have made upon them.
Notwithstanding your flattering encouragement I think I shall not have sufficient confidence again to address the public;—the object which I had in view is completely attained, —the public attention has been awakened, and the discussion is now in the most able hands. I regret, however, that you cannot bring yourself to subscribe to my doctrine respecting the exchange being influenced by no other causes but by the relation which the amount of currency bears to the uses for which it is required in the different nations of the earth. This may proceed from your interpreting my proposition somewhat too rigidly. I wish to prove that if nations truly understood their own interest they would never export money from one country to another but on account of comparative redundancy. I assume indeed that nations in their commercial transactions are so alive to their advantage and profit, particularly in the present improved state of the division of employments and abundance of Capital, that in point of fact money never does move but when it is advantageous both to the country which sends and the country that receives that it should do so. The first point to be considered is, what is the interest of countries in the case supposed? The second what is their practise? Now it is obvious that I need not be greatly solicitous about this latter point; it is sufficient for my purpose if I can clearly demonstrate that the interest of the public is as I have stated it. It would be no answer to me to say that men were ignorant of the best and cheapest mode of conducting their business and paying their debts, because that is a question of fact not of science, and might be urged against almost every proposition in Political Economy. It rests with you therefore to prove that a case can exist where it may become the interest of a nation to pay a debt by the transmission of money rather than in any other mode, when money is not the cheapest exportable commodity,—when money (taking into account all expences which may attend the exportation of different commodities as well as money) will not purchase more goods abroad than it will at home. You appear to me to have repeatedly admitted that it is the relative prices of commodities which regulates their exportation. Is it not then as certain that money will go to that country where the major part of goods are cheap, as that goods will go to any other country where the major part are dear. I say the major part because if the cheapness of one half of the exportable commodities be balanced by the dearness of the other half, in both countries, it is obvious that the commerce of such countries will be confined to the exchange of goods only. When you say that money will go abroad to pay a debt or a subsidy, or to buy corn, although it be not superabundant, but at the same time admit that [it] will speedily return and be exchanged for goods, you appear [to me] to concede all for which I contend, namely, that it would be the interest of both countries, when money is not superabundant in the one owing the debt, that the expence of exporting the money should be spared, because it will be followed by another useless expence—sending it back again.
If in any country there exists a dearness of importable commodities and no corresponding cheapness of exportable commodities money in such country is above its natural level and must infallibly be exported in payment of the dear commodities,—but what does this state of things indicate but an excess of currency, and it may surely be correctly said that money is exported to restore the level not to destroy it: I ought to apologize for again troubling you with my opinions, but you have drawn me into it. I shall be happy to renew our conversation on these disputed points as soon as you can make it convenient to visit us in London, and I trust it will not be long before Mrs. Malthus and you will favour us with your company. On some future day I shall have great pleasure in again visiting you at Hertford.
I am Dear Sir Your’s very truly