David Ricardo

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  • Topic: David Ricardo, Judaism, Comparative advantage
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  • Published : October 20, 2005
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Born on April 18, 1772 in London, David Ricardo was the third of seventeen children in a Sephardic Jewish family that emigrated from The Netherlands to England right before his birth. When he was 14 he helped out his father by working at the London Stock Exchange where he learned about money and finance. At 21, Ricardo rejected his orthodox Jewish beliefs and married a Quakeress, Priscilla Anne Wilkinson, which did not make his father happy. After his family disinherited him from marrying outside his Jewish faith, he moved on and made a fortune as a stockbroker and a loan broker. Around that time Ricardo became a Utilitarian.

By the age 42, Ricardo's work with the stock exchange had made him very wealthy and he was able to retire from his business in 1814. After that he bought an estate in Gloucestershire and moved to Gatcombe Park. In 1819, Ricardo purchased a seat in the British parliament as a representative of Portarlington, which was a borough of Ireland. He kept that post until his death in 1823. Ricardo died at Gatcombe Park at the age of 51.

Ricardo began getting interested in economics when he read Adam Smith's book "The Wealth of Nations." He wrote his first economic article when he was 37 and spent the next 14 years of his life as an economist. The "Bullion Controversy" is what first gave Ricardo his popularity among economists. He began in 1809 by authorizing newspaper articles on currency questions. Through that, he was a partisan of the Bullionist position, in which he argued for the resumption of the convertibility of paper money into gold. In 1810 and 1811, he wrote what came to be known as the "classical approach" to the theory of money Ricardo was a very early believer in the quantity theory of money, or monetarism as we call it today. In 1815, he published his groundbreaking "essay...on Profits" and articulated what has become one of the most famous laws of economics, The Law of Diminishing Returns. He says that as more and...
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