Chapter 2

David Ricardo – from immigrant to gentleman

‘I am told that I adopt new and unusual language, not reconcilable with the true principles of the science. To me it appears that the unusual and, indeed, inconsistent language is that used by my opponents.’

David Ricardo, Principles of Political Economy and Taxation, ch. 1, §1, p. 11

Early life and influences

Economists have a reputation for being dull folk who speak in jargon. Imagine instead someone whose personal life contained enough twists and turns to satisfy a Hollywood scriptwriter and you begin to get a picture of David Ricardo. He was born in 1772 – four years before Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations was published – into an immigrant Jewish family in London’s East End as the ...

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