Front Page Titles (by Subject) [enclosure: ricardo's notes on mill's elements of political economy] - The Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo, Vol. 9 Letters 1821-1823
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
[enclosure: ricardo’s notes on mill’s elements of political economy] - David Ricardo, The Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo, Vol. 9 Letters 1821-1823 
The Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo, ed. Piero Sraffa with the Collaboration of M.H. Dobb (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2005). Vol. 9 Letters 1821-1823.
About Liberty Fund:
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:
[enclosure: ricardo’s notes on mill’s elements of political economy]
Section 2. Chap. 2. The fecundity of the woman would not be admitted as a conclusive argument, by the objectors to the theory, that the population of a rich, luxurious and populous country could under favorable circumstances, increase in the same proportion as a new and poor country, because they contend, that in consequence of the prevalence of luxury, so many women are withdrawn from the office of childbearing, that there are not a sufficient number left to augment the population in the same proportion as at an earlier period. They contend that the demand for nurses, and female servants of all descriptions, lessen the number of childbearing women.
Page 48 “In a country in which all were reduced &ca”1 Can there be any such country? In all old states rent will constitute a fund which will ensure the existence of a comparatively rich class. I do not quite agree with the opinion expressed in the first part of the paragraph “that considerable savings may be made from the expenditure of the rich to mitigate the effects of the deficiency”. This result could not take place for 2 or 3 years, and it would equally take place in the case supposed if we had not reached the end of our resources. Whether the land be very much subdivided or not, there must exist a very large surplus produce in the shape of rent. Under these circumstances it is impossible that all should be poor. I do not speak of this ultimate state as a desirable one, I agree with you that the mass of the people would be exposed to great misery in it, but I think you have drawn it too strongly.
You say in this chapter that the demand for labour and the power of employing it will be in proportion to the increase of capital—I believe I have said the same, and it may be perhaps right to say so in an elementary book, altho’ it is not strictly correct. The power of employing labour depends on the increase of a particular part of capital, not on the increase of the whole capital. (See my Chapter on Machinery).
Do you not underrate the power and the willingness to save? You do not speak of the two ways by which capital may be increased by saving; of one, the common and usual way, devoting more of the annual production to productive employments, you do speak, but you say nothing of the great increase which sometimes takes place in capital by the discovery of cheaper modes of producing.
Section 2 Chap. 3 I see the same difficulty, in this section, that I have seen in my own, on the same subject, of laying down a general and positive rule with respect to quantity of labour realised in commodts. being the rule and measure of their exchangeable value. The exceptions will be opposed to you as they have been to me. In page 76 there is a passage ending with these words “without in the least affecting the truth of the previous proposition &ca. &ca. If a watch and a common Jack altered in relative value without any more or less labour being required for the production of either of them, could we say that the proposition “that quantity of labour determines exchangeable value” was universally true? What I call exceptions and modifications of the general rule you appear to me to say come under the general rule itself.
Secn. Page 89 I cannot agree in the distinction here taken, that the advantage in commerce is derived to all countries from what they receive, and not from what they send out. They in fact never receive any thing without sending something to pay for it, and it is the exchange which is beneficial. It is no exchange unless a commodity be given as well as received. I do not see how such a transaction can be separated into two parts and how it can be justly said that one part only is beneficial. What we get in exchange for our commodity really constitutes the price or value for which we sell it.
109 “Excepting only that part comparatively small which is fixed in durable machinery” Can this part be called justly comparatively small? It consists not only of durable machinery but of ships, canals, roads, bridges, workshops &ca. &ca.
119 “But in these circumstances” &ca. The latter part of this paragraph is not clear. Why would the bank pay for their notes when they came back £4? Answer. Their stock of gold would inevitably be soon exhausted and they would be obliged to buy in the market at £4–what they sold at £3. 17. 10½ in order to replace that stock.
120 “If no coins were in circulation &ca.” They could derive great profit from it if they took this opportunity of buying gold at £2. 10–then increased their issues, and sold it at £4.–
120 “In the case of a metallic currency &ca” There is a little ambiguity in this passage. Government could not diminish the value of the currency taken as a whole, they could diminish the value of each particular coin of which that currency was composed.
127 I should be very unwilling to allow government to keep the same quantity of paper in circulation under the circumstances supposed. By what criterion should we be able to distinguish a real demand for gold, from a diminished capital and circulation from improvements in the art of economising the use of money &ca. &ca.?
Page 145 “If a balance is due &ca. &a.[”] To the settling of this transaction by bills it is necessary that the Merchant at Amsterdam should owe £1000 to Hamburgh, or that he can receive the bullion which is in £1000 at a less expence from Hamburgh than from England. In selling his demand on England at Hamburgh, Hamburgh becomes his debtor instead of England.1
147 “When the currencies &ca.” This should be qualified a little, for without any alteration in the quantity of metal in either, the relative value of their currencies may undergo a change, within the range of the expences of sending the metal from one to the other. If 10000 guilder were of the same intrinsic value as £1000, and the expence of sending money 2 pct., £1000 might for a considerable length of time purchase a bill for 10200 guilders at one period, and at another, for a considerable length of time also, it might only purchase a bill for about 9800. This might be usefully put in a note.
1532 Whenever two commodities are exchanged between merchants of different countries, it is certain, that, valued in the commodity exported, the commodity imported must exceed the value of the commodity exported, by all the expences attending the conveyance of both commodities. If England in a season of scarcity sends cloth to Poland for corn, the corn when it comes to England must at least be more valuable than the cloth which was sent, by all the expences attending the conveyance, both of the cloth and corn, or it could not possibly be for the advantage of any body to be engaged in the transaction. The same holds true with respect to money. If I consent to send money from England, to import corn from Poland, when it arrives in England, it must be of a value, not only equal to its cost in Poland, but also equal to the charges of sending the money and conveying the corn. One hundred qrs. of corn in Poland are worth we will suppose £200[,] the charge of sending the money £5. If I send the money therefore the corn will cost me £205, but the charge of bringing the corn to England we will suppose to be £10, when therefore it arrives in England it will stand me in £215 and unless I sell it for more than that sum I get no profit. Is not this £215 made up of £200 original cost, £5 for conveying the money, and £10 for conveying the corn? I see your meaning about the exchange in which you are right, but you have not chosen the right words to express it in.
163 “As the man..... 1 so the grower of corn sustainsnot any the smallest loss or inconvenience” Should not this be qualified by saying that he sustains only the general loss sustained by all other consumers in being forced to pay more for the protected commodity?
167 I object again to the doctrine that all advantage in trade is derived from the commodities received and not by those which are sent.
171 Is not a colony more injured by being obliged to buy of the mother country than by being obliged to sell to it? The produce of the colony though sent to the mother country, and therefore liable to more charges than if sent to the country where it is finally to be sold, is nevertheless diffused generally to all places where it is in demand, and therefore finally obtains the best price, deduction being always made for the increased charges. But the colony is obliged to obtain its commodities from one single market, and is obliged to buy in that market altho’ she might possibly buy the same goods much cheaper elsewhere. It is evident, I think, that she not only bears the increased charges, but also the increased cost, on the commodities she purchases.
Page 181 Whether the producer of cloth can add to his capital, from that part of his cloth which belongs to him as profits, depends upon the ability he may have of exchanging this portion of his cloth for food, raw materials, tools and labour.
Page 194 “In such a case &ca” This does not answer the objection usually made. If every man was intent on saving, more food and necessaries, (the materials which are chiefly employed in procuring labour), would be produced than could be consumed. The supply above the demand would produce such a glut, that with the increased quantity you could command no more labour than before. All motive to save would cease, for it could not be accomplished, but the precise reason of this is, that capital increases faster than population, and consequently that the labourers would be in a condition to command a very great quantity of the net produce. This could only last till the population was increased, when labour would again fall, and the net produce be more advantageously distributed for the capitalist. During the period of very high wages, food and necessaries would not be produced in such quantities as to occasion a glut, for it would be the interest of the producer to produce such things as were in demand, and suited to the tastes of those who had high wages to expend.
192 “But to the very same amount &ca. &ca. ” I cannot agree with this, for the additional quantity of cloth might be made by an additional capital saved from last year’s revenue, and not from a capital withdrawn from other employments. I agree with the conclusion, but not with the statement. The clothier who produces the cloth with his saved capital, as I have supposed, and for which there is not an adequate demand, did it as a means to an end, he wished to sell his cloth and purchase some other thing. It is that other thing which he ought to have produced, and then there would not have been a glut of any commodity. There cannot be a glut of any thing but from an accident, almost always from miscalculation.
199 “If a body of people &ca. &ca.” There would be a period, more or less long, in which there would be no rent, and consequently there could be no public revenue. An objection may be made against this tax that it would tend to arrest improvement or would finally in some cases fall on the consumer of raw produce; I mean in the case of a landlord expending a great deal of capital on his land for which he receives a return not under the name of profit, but under the name of rent. These expences would not be incurred, unless by a rise in the price of raw produce the capitalist should have reason to think that he should be repaid for the peculiar disadvantage to which he was exposed. Under such a system of taxation great encouragement would be given to gambling. On the approach of war land would fall in proportion to the expectation of the duration of the war, and with every battle or treaty people would speculate according as their hopes or fears predominated. Land would be so uncertain a property that no safe provision could by means of the possession of it be made for children. On the whole I should greatly prefer the present system of taxation. If land is to be peculiarly the subject of taxation it would be desirable to adopt the Asiatic mode, and consider the government at all times, both in war and peace, the sole possessor of the land, and entitled to all the rent.
202. Is it accurate to say that the legislature does possess the power of increasing the productions of the state? By good laws it may take away all the impediments in the way of increasing them,—it may secure to industry all the fruits of its labour &ca. &ca., but the legislature does not by these laws actually increase productions.
234 “In neither of these cases &ca &ca”1 you should I think add “provided an equal tax were laid upon all similar commodities when imported”. From what follows it is clear that is your meaning, but the passage would be more clear if you said so.—
The account of the effects of different taxes is I think very concisely and ably stated.
[1 ]‘In a country in which all were reduced to the state of wages, any considerable diminution of the usual supply would diffuse general, irremediable calamity.’
[1 ]In MS this remark and the following one are added at the end of the paper.
[2 ]‘If England in a season of scarcity sends to Poland for corn, the corn in England will not be loaded with the expense both of carrying home the corn and carrying out the cloth, while Poland will bear no part of the cost of carriage but will have her cloth free of the cost of carriage, therefore as cheap as in England. The facts, it is evident, will be these: The corn will be dearer in England than in Poland, by the cost of bringing it from Poland; and the cloth will be dearer in Poland than in England, by the cost of carrying the cloth.’
[1 ]‘As the man who has embarked his capital in the trade which is called protected, derives no additional profit from the protection;’.
[1 ]‘In neither of these cases [‘that in which any number of commodities are taxed one by one... and that in which all commodities are taxed by an ad valorem duty’] has the high price of commodities—in other words, the low purchasing power of money, any tendency to send money out of the country.’