Classical economics

Classical economics or classical political economy is a school of thought in economics that flourished, primarily in Britain, in the late 18th and early-to-mid 19th century. Its main thinkers are held to be Adam Smith, Jean-Baptiste Say, David Ricardo, Thomas Robert Malthus, and John Stuart Mill. These economists produced a theory of market economies as largely self-regulating systems, governed by natural laws of production and exchange (famously captured by Adam Smith's metaphor of the invisible hand).

Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations in 1776 is usually considered to mark the beginning of classical economics.[1] The fundamental message in Smith's book was that the wealth of any nation was determined not by the gold in the monarch's coffers, but by its national income. This income was in turn based on the labor of its inhabitants, organized efficiently by the division of labour and the use of accumulated capital, which became one of classical economics' central concepts.[2]

In terms of economic policy, the classical economists were pragmatic liberals, advocating the freedom of the market, though they saw a role for the state in providing for the common good. Smith acknowledged that there were areas where the market is not the best way to serve the common interest, and he took it as a given that the greater proportion of the costs supporting the common good should be borne by those best able to afford them. He warned repeatedly of the dangers of monopoly, and stressed the importance of competition.[1] In terms of international trade, the classical economists were advocates of free trade, which distinguishes them from their mercantilist predecessors, who advocated protectionism.

The designation of Smith, Ricardo and some earlier economists as 'classical' is due to Karl Marx, to distinguish the 'greats' of economic theory from their 'vulgar' successors. There is some debate about what is covered by the term "classical economics", particularly when dealing with the period from 1830–75, and how classical economics relates to neoclassical economics.

History

The classical economists produced their "magnificent dynamics"[3] during a period in which capitalism was emerging from feudalism and in which the Industrial Revolution was leading to vast changes in society. These changes raised the question of how a society could be organized around a system in which every individual sought his or her own (monetary) gain. Classical political economy is popularly associated with the idea that free markets can regulate themselves.[4]

Classical economists and their immediate predecessors reoriented economics away from an analysis of the ruler's personal interests to broader national interests. Adam Smith, following the physiocrat François Quesnay, identified the wealth of a nation with the yearly national income, instead of the king's treasury. Smith saw this income as produced by labour, land, and capital. With property rights to land and capital held by individuals, the national income is divided up between labourers, landlords, and capitalists in the form of wages, rent, and interest or profits. In his vision, productive labour was the true source of income, while capital was the main organizing force, boosting labour's productivity and inducing growth.

Ricardo and James Mill systematized Smith's theory. Their ideas became economic orthodoxy in the period ca. 1815-1848, after which an "anti-Ricardian reaction" took shape, especially on the European continent, that eventually became marginalist/neoclassical economics.[5] The definitive split is typically placed somewhere in the 1870s, after which the torch of Ricardian economics was carried mainly by Marxian economics, while neoclassical economics became the new orthodoxy also in the English-speaking world.

Henry George is sometimes known as the last classical economist or as a bridge. The economist Mason Gaffney documented original sources that appear to confirm his thesis arguing that neoclassical economics arose as a concerted effort to suppress the ideas of classical economics and those of Henry George in particular.[6]

Modern legacy

Classical economics and many of its ideas remain fundamental in economics, though the theory itself has yielded, since the 1870s, to neoclassical economics. Other ideas have either disappeared from neoclassical discourse or been replaced by Keynesian economics in the Keynesian Revolution and neoclassical synthesis. Some classical ideas are represented in various schools of heterodox economics, notably Georgism and Marxian economics – Marx and Henry George being contemporaries of classical economists – and Austrian economics, which split from neoclassical economics in the late 19th century. In the mid-20th century, a renewed interest in classical economics gave rise to the neo-Ricardian school and its offshoots.

Classical theories of growth and development

Analyzing the growth in the wealth of nations and advocating policies to promote such growth was a major focus of most classical economists. However, John Stuart Mill believed that a future stationary state of a constant population size and a constant stock of capital was both inevitable, necessary and desirable for mankind to achieve. This is now known as a steady-state economy. [7]:592–596

John Hicks & Samuel Hollander,[8] Nicholas Kaldor,[9] Luigi L. Pasinetti,[10][11] and Paul A. Samuelson[12][13] have presented formal models as part of their respective interpretations of classical political economy.

Value theory

Classical economists developed a theory of value, or price, to investigate economic dynamics. In political economics, value usually refers to the value of exchange, which is separate from the price.[7] William Petty introduced a fundamental distinction between market price and natural price to facilitate the portrayal of regularities in prices. Market prices are jostled by many transient influences that are difficult to theorize about at any abstract level. Natural prices, according to Petty, Smith, and Ricardo, for example, capture systematic and persistent forces operating at a point in time. Market prices always tend toward natural prices in a process that Smith described as somewhat similar to gravitational attraction.

The theory of what determined natural prices varied within the Classical school. Petty tried to develop a par between land and labour and had what might be called a land-and-labour theory of value. Smith confined the labour theory of value to a mythical pre-capitalist past. Others may interpret Smith to have believed in value as derived from labour.[1] He stated that natural prices were the sum of natural rates of wages, profits (including interest on capital and wages of superintendence) and rent. Ricardo also had what might be described as a cost of production theory of value. He criticized Smith for describing rent as price-determining, instead of price-determined, and saw the labour theory of value as a good approximation.

Some historians of economic thought, in particular, Sraffian economists,[14][15] see the classical theory of prices as determined from three givens:

  1. The level of outputs at the level of Smith's "effectual demand",
  2. technology, and
  3. wages.

From these givens, one can rigorously derive a theory of value. But neither Ricardo nor Marx, the most rigorous investigators of the theory of value during the Classical period, developed this theory fully. Those who reconstruct the theory of value in this manner see the determinants of natural prices as being explained by the Classical economists from within the theory of economics, albeit at a lower level of abstraction. For example, the theory of wages was closely connected to the theory of population. The Classical economists took the theory of the determinants of the level and growth of population as part of Political Economy. Since then, the theory of population has been seen as part of Demography. In contrast to the Classical theory, the determinants of the neoclassical theory value:

  1. tastes
  2. technology, and
  3. endowments

are seen as exogenous to neoclassical economics.

Classical economics tended to stress the benefits of trade. Its theory of value was largely displaced by marginalist schools of thought which sees "use value" as deriving from the marginal utility that consumers finds in a good, and "exchange value" (i.e. natural price) as determined by the marginal opportunity- or disutility-cost of the inputs that make up the product. Ironically, considering the attachment of many classical economists to the free market, the largest school of economic thought that still adheres to classical form is the Marxian school.

Monetary theory

British classical economists in the 19th century had a well-developed controversy between the Banking and the Currency School. This parallels recent debates between proponents of the theory of endogeneous money, such as Nicholas Kaldor, and monetarists, such as Milton Friedman. Monetarists and members of the currency school argued that banks can and should control the supply of money. According to their theories, inflation is caused by banks issuing an excessive supply of money. According to proponents of the theory of endogenous money, the supply of money automatically adjusts to the demand, and banks can only control the terms (e.g., the rate of interest) on which loans are made.

Debates on the definition

The theory of value is currently a contested subject. One issue is whether classical economics is a forerunner of neoclassical economics or a school of thought that had a distinct theory of value, distribution, and growth.

The period 1830–75 is a timeframe of significant debate. Karl Marx originally coined the term "classical economics" to refer to Ricardian economics – the economics of David Ricardo and James Mill and their predecessors – but usage was subsequently extended to include the followers of Ricardo.[16]

Sraffians, who emphasize the discontinuity thesis, see classical economics as extending from Petty's work in the 17th century to the break-up of the Ricardian system around 1830. The period between 1830 and the 1870s would then be dominated by "vulgar political economy", as Karl Marx characterized it. Sraffians argue that: the wages fund theory; Senior's abstinence theory of interest, which puts the return to capital on the same level as returns to land and labour; the explanation of equilibrium prices by well-behaved supply and demand functions; and Say's law, are not necessary or essential elements of the classical theory of value and distribution. Perhaps Schumpeter's view that John Stuart Mill put forth a half-way house between classical and neoclassical economics is consistent with this view.

Georgists and other modern classical economists and historians such as Michael Hudson argue that a major division between classical and neo-classical economics is the treatment or recognition of economic rent. Most modern economists no longer recognize land/location as a factor of production, often claiming that rent is non-existent. Georgists and others argue that economic rent remains roughly a third of economic output.

Sraffians generally see Marx as having rediscovered and restated the logic of classical economics, albeit for his own purposes. Others, such as Schumpeter, think of Marx as a follower of Ricardo. Even Samuel Hollander[17] has recently explained that there is a textual basis in the classical economists for Marx's reading, although he does argue that it is an extremely narrow set of texts.

Another position is that neoclassical economics is essentially continuous with classical economics. To scholars promoting this view, there is no hard and fast line between classical and neoclassical economics. There may be shifts of emphasis, such as between the long run and the short run and between supply and demand, but the neoclassical concepts are to be found confused or in embryo in classical economics. To these economists, there is only one theory of value and distribution. Alfred Marshall is a well-known promoter of this view. Samuel Hollander is probably its best current proponent.

Still another position sees two threads simultaneously being developed in classical economics. In this view, neoclassical economics is a development of certain exoteric (popular) views in Adam Smith. Ricardo was a sport, developing certain esoteric (known by only the select) views in Adam Smith. This view can be found in W. Stanley Jevons, who referred to Ricardo as something like "that able, but wrong-headed man" who put economics on the "wrong track". One can also find this view in Maurice Dobb's Theories of Value and Distribution Since Adam Smith: Ideology and Economic Theory (1973), as well as in Karl Marx's Theories of Surplus Value.

The above does not exhaust the possibilities. John Maynard Keynes thought of classical economics as starting with Ricardo and being ended by the publication of his own General Theory of Employment Interest and Money. The defining criterion of classical economics, on this view, is Say's law which is disputed by Keynesian economics. Keynes was aware, though, that his usage of the term 'classical' was non-standard.[16]

One difficulty in these debates is that the participants are frequently arguing about whether there is a non-neoclassical theory that should be reconstructed and applied today to describe capitalist economies. Some, such as Terry Peach,[18] see classical economics as of antiquarian interest.

See also

Notes

  1. ^ a b c Smith, Adam (1776) An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of The Wealth of Nations. (accessible by table of contents chapter titles) AdamSmith.org ISBN 1-4043-0998-5
  2. ^ Pearce, David W., ed. (1992). The MIT Dictionary of Modern Economics. MIT Press. pp. 61–62.
  3. ^ Baumol, William J. (1970) Economic Dynamics, 3rd edition, Macmillan (as cited in Caravale, Giovanni A. and Domenico A. Tosato (1980) Ricardo and the Theory of Value, Distribution and Growth, Routledge & Kegan Paul)
  4. ^ O'Sullivan, Arthur; Sheffrin, Steven M. (2003). Economics: Principles in Action. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey 07458: Pearson Prentice Hall. p. 395. ISBN 0-13-063085-3.
  5. ^ Screpanti and Zamagni (2005), pp. 100-104.
  6. ^ Gaffney, Mason (2006). The corruption of economics (PDF). London: Shepheard-Walwyn in association with Centre for Incentive Taxation. ISBN 0856832448.
  7. ^ a b Mill, John Stuart (2009) [1848]. Principles of Political Economy (PDF contains full book) (1st ed.). Salt Lake City, UT: Project Gutenberg.
  8. ^ Hicks, John and Samuel Hollander (1977) "Mr. Ricardo and the Moderns", Quarterly Journal of Economics, V. 91, N. 3 (Aug.): pp. 351–69
  9. ^ Kaldor, Nicholas (1956) "Alternative Theories of Distribution", Review of Economic Studies, V. 23: pp. 83–100
  10. ^ Pasinetti, Luigi L. (1959–60) "A Mathematical Formulation of the Ricardian System", Review of Economic Studies: pp. 78–98
  11. ^ Pasinetti, Luigi L. (1977) Lectures on the Theory of Production, Columbia University Press
  12. ^ Samuelson, Paul A. (1959) "A Modern Treatment of the Ricardian Economy", Quarterly Journal of Economics, V. 73, February and May
  13. ^ Samuelson, Paul A. (1978) "The Canonical Classical Model of Political Economy", Journal of Economic Literature, V. 16: pp. 1415–34
  14. ^ Krishna Bharadwaj (1989) "Themes in Value and Distribution: Classical Theory Reppraised", Unwin-Hyman
  15. ^ Pierangelo Garegnani (1987), "Surplus Approach to Value and Distribution" in "The New Palgrave: A Dictionary of Economics"
  16. ^ a b The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, John Maynard Keynes, Chapter 1, Footnote 1
  17. ^ Samuel Hollander (2000), "Sraffa and the Interpretation of Ricardo: The Marxian Dimension", "History of Political Economy", V. 32, N. 2: 187–232 (2000)
  18. ^ Terry Peach (1993), "Interpreting Ricardo", Cambridge University Press

References

Further reading

External links

Circulating capital

Circulating capital includes intermediate goods and operating expenses, i.e., short-lived items that are used in production and used up in the process of creating other goods or services. This is roughly equal to intermediate consumption. Finer distinctions include raw materials, intermediate goods, inventories, ancillary operating expenses and (working capital). It is contrasted with fixed capital. The term was used in more specialized ways by classical economists such as Adam Smith, David Ricardo and Karl Marx.

Where the distinction is used, circulating capital is a component of (total) capital, also including fixed capital used in a single cycle of production. In contrast to fixed capital, it is used up in every cycle (raw materials, basic and intermediate materials, combustible, energy…). In accounting, the circulating capital comes under the heading of current assets.

Building on the work of Quesnay and Turgot, Adam Smith (1776) made the first explicit distinction between fixed and circulating capital. In his usage, circulating capital includes wages and labour maintenance, money, and inputs from land, mines, and fisheries associated with production.According to Karl Marx (second volume of Das Kapital, end of chapter 7) the turnover of capital influences "the processes of production and self-expansion", the two new forms of capital, circulating and fixed, "accrue to capital from the process of circulation and affect the form of its turnover". In the following chapter Marx defines fixed capital and circulating capital. In chapter 9 he claims: "We have here not alone quantitative but also qualitative difference."

Conventionally, (physical) capital assets held by a business for more than one year are regarded in annual accounting statements as "fixed", the rest as "circulating". In modern economies such as the United States, roughly half of the intermediate inputs bought or used by businesses are in fact services, and not goods.

Classical liberalism

Classical liberalism is a political ideology and a branch of liberalism which advocates civil liberties under the rule of law with an emphasis on economic freedom. Closely related to economic liberalism, it developed in the early 19th century, building on ideas from the previous century as a response to urbanisation and to the Industrial Revolution in Europe and the United States. Notable individuals whose ideas contributed to classical liberalism include John Locke, Jean-Baptiste Say, Thomas Robert Malthus and David Ricardo. It drew on the classical economic ideas espoused by Adam Smith in Book One of The Wealth of Nations and on a belief in natural law, utilitarianism and progress. The term 'classical liberalism' has often been applied in retrospect to distinguish earlier 19th-century liberalism from social liberalism.

Cost-of-production theory of value

In economics, the cost-of-production theory of value is the theory that the price of an object or condition is determined by the sum of the cost of the resources that went into making it. The cost can comprise any of the factors of production (including labor, capital, or land) and taxation.

The theory makes the most sense under assumptions of constant returns to scale and the existence of just one non-produced factor of production. These are the assumptions of the so-called non-substitution theorem. Under these assumptions, the long-run price of a commodity is equal to the sum of the cost of the inputs into that commodity, including interest charges.

EconTalk

EconTalk is a weekly economics podcast hosted by Russ Roberts. Roberts was an economics professor at George Mason University and is now a research fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution. On the podcast Roberts typically interviews a single guest—often professional economists—on topics in economics. The podcast is hosted by the Library of Economics and Liberty, an online library sponsored by Liberty Fund. On EconTalk Roberts has interviewed more than a dozen Nobel Prize laureates including Nobel Prize in Economics recipients Ronald Coase, Milton Friedman, Gary Becker, and Joseph Stiglitz as well as Nobel Prize in Physics recipient Robert Laughlin.

Exchange value

In political economy and especially Marxian economics, exchange value (German: Tauschwert) refers to one of four major attributes of a commodity, i.e., an item or service produced for, and sold on the market. The other three aspects are use value, economic value, and price.Thus, a commodity has:

a value (note the link is to a non-Marxian definition of value)

a use value (or utility)

an exchange value

a price (it could be an actual selling price or an imputed ideal price)These four concepts have a very long history in human thought, from Aristotle to David Ricardo, becoming ever more clearly distinguished as the development of commercial trade progressed but have largely disappeared as four distinct concepts in modern economics. This entry focuses on Marx's summation of the results of economic thought about exchange-value.

Keynesian economics

Keynesian economics ( KAYN-zee-ən; sometimes called Keynesianism) are the various macroeconomic theories about how in the short run – and especially during recessions – economic output is strongly influenced by aggregate demand (total demand in the economy). In the Keynesian view, aggregate demand does not necessarily equal the productive capacity of the economy; instead, it is influenced by a host of factors and sometimes behaves erratically, affecting production, employment, and inflation.Keynesian economics developed during and after the Great Depression, from the ideas presented by John Maynard Keynes in his 1936 book, The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money. Keynes contrasted his approach to the aggregate supply-focused classical economics that preceded his book. The interpretations of Keynes that followed are contentious and several schools of economic thought claim his legacy.

Keynesian economists generally argue that, as aggregate demand is volatile and unstable, a market economy will often experience inefficient macroeconomic outcomes in the form of economic recessions (when demand is low) and inflation (when demand is high). These can be mitigated by economic policy responses, in particular, monetary policy actions by the central bank and fiscal policy actions by the government, which can help stabilize output over the business cycle. Keynesian economists generally advocate a managed market economy – predominantly private sector, but with an active role for government intervention during recessions and depressions.Keynesian economics served as the standard economic model in the developed nations during the later part of the Great Depression, World War II, and the post-war economic expansion (1945–1973), though it lost some influence following the oil shock and resulting stagflation of the 1970s. The advent of the financial crisis of 2007–08 caused a resurgence in Keynesian thought, which continues as new Keynesian economics.

Neo-Ricardianism

The neo-Ricardian school is an economic school

that derives from the close reading and interpretation of David Ricardo by Piero Sraffa, and from Sraffa's critique of neo-classical economics as presented in his The Production of Commodities by Means of Commodities, and further developed by the neo-Ricardians in the course of the Cambridge capital controversy. It particularly disputes neo-classical theory of income distribution.

Prominent neo-Ricardians are usually held to include Pierangelo Garegnani, Krishna Bharadwaj, Luigi Pasinetti, Joan Robinson, John Eatwell, Fernando Vianello, Murray Milgate, Ian Steedman, Heinz D. Kurz, Neri Salvadori, Bertram Schefold, Fabio Petri, Massimo Pivetti, Franklin Serrano, Fabio Ravagnani, Roberto Ciccone, Sergio Parrinello, Alessandro Roncaglia, Maurice Dobb, Gilbert Abraham-Frois, Theodore Mariolis and Giorgio Gilibert.

The school partially overlaps with post-Keynesian and neo-Marxian economics.

Neoclassical economics

Neoclassical economics is an approach to economics focusing on the determination of goods, outputs, and income distributions in markets through supply and demand. This determination is often mediated through a hypothesized maximization of utility by income-constrained individuals and of profits by firms facing production costs and employing available information and factors of production, in accordance with rational choice theory.Neoclassical economics dominates microeconomics, and together with Keynesian economics forms the neoclassical synthesis which dominates mainstream economics today. Although neoclassical economics has gained widespread acceptance by contemporary economists, there have been many critiques of neoclassical economics, often incorporated into newer versions of neoclassical theory.

New classical macroeconomics

New classical macroeconomics, sometimes simply called new classical economics, is a school of thought in macroeconomics that builds its analysis entirely on a neoclassical framework. Specifically, it emphasizes the importance of rigorous foundations based on microeconomics, especially rational expectations.

New classical macroeconomics strives to provide neoclassical microeconomic foundations for macroeconomic analysis. This is in contrast with its rival new Keynesian school that uses microfoundations such as price stickiness and imperfect competition to generate macroeconomic models similar to earlier, Keynesian ones.

On the Principles of Political Economy and Taxation

On the Principles of Political Economy and Taxation (19 April 1817) is a book by David Ricardo on economics. The book concludes that land rent grows as population increases. It also presents the theory of comparative advantage, the theory that free trade between two or more countries can be mutually beneficial, even when one country has an absolute advantage over the other countries in all areas of production.

Ricardo claims in the preface that Turgot, Stuart, Adam Smith, Jean-Baptiste Say, Sismondi, and others had not written enough "satisfactory information" on the topics of rent, profit, and wages. Principles of Political Economy is Ricardo's effort to fill that gap in the literature. Regardless of whether the book achieved that goal, it secured, according to Ronald Max Hartwell, Ricardo's position among the great classical economists Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, John Stuart Mill, and Karl Marx.

In his book Adam's Fallacy: A Guide to Economic Theology, economist Duncan K. Foley highlights that in the Principles Ricardo criticizes Adam Smith's treatment of the theory of value and distribution for circular reasoning, in particular as far as concerns rent, and that Ricardo considers the labor theory of value, properly understood, a more logically sound basis for political economic reasoning.Foley also discusses the chapter On Machinery, which Ricardo included in his third and final (1821) version of Principles. Here Ricardo famously analysed the impact of the adoption of machinery on the different classes of society, revising his earlier view that mechanization could be expected to be of benefit to each of the classes of the society. The increase in productivity due to mechanization lowers the production costs and thus also the real prices of commodities. Whereas the landowning class and capitalists benefit from the lower prices, workers in contrast do not reap such benefit from the lower prices if capitalists reduce the wage fund in order to finance the expensive machinery, causing technological unemployment among workers. In this case, Ricardo points out, wages are forced down by competition among workers, and the introduction of new machines can lead to an over-all decline in the well-being of the working class.

Outline of economics

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to economics:

Economics – analyzes the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services. It aims to explain how economies work and how economic agents interact.

Physiocracy

Physiocracy (French: Physiocratie; from the Greek for "government of nature") is an economic theory developed by a group of 18th-century Enlightenment French economists who believed that the wealth of nations was derived solely from the value of "land agriculture" or "land development" and that agricultural products should be highly priced. Their theories originated in France and were most popular during the second half of the 18th century. Physiocracy is one of the first well-developed theories of economics.

The movement was particularly dominated by François Quesnay (1694–1774) and Anne-Robert-Jacques Turgot (1727–1781). It immediately preceded the first modern school, classical economics, which began with the publication of Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations in 1776.

The most significant contribution of the physiocrats was their emphasis on productive work as the source of national wealth. This is in contrast to earlier schools, in particular mercantilism, which often focused on the ruler's wealth, accumulation of gold, or the balance of trade. Whereas the mercantilist school of economics said that value in the products of society was created at the point of sale, by the seller exchanging his products for more money than the products had "previously" been worth, the physiocratic school of economics was the first to see labor as the sole source of value. However, for the physiocrats, only agricultural labor created this value in the products of society. All "industrial" and non-agricultural labors were "unproductive appendages" to agricultural labor.At the time the physiocrats were formulating their ideas, economies were almost entirely agrarian. That is presumably why the theory considered only agricultural labor to be valuable. Physiocrats viewed the production of goods and services as equivalent to the consumption of the agricultural surplus, since the main source of power was from human or animal muscle and all energy was derived from the surplus from agricultural production. Profit in capitalist production was really only the "rent" obtained by the owner of the land on which the agricultural production was taking place."The physiocrats damned cities for their artificiality and praised more natural styles of living. They celebrated farmers." They called themselves Les Économistes, but are generally referred to as physiocrats to distinguish them from the many schools of economic thought that followed them.

Primitive accumulation of capital

In Marxist economics and preceding theories, the problem of primitive accumulation (also called previous accumulation, original accumulation) of capital concerns the origin of capital, and therefore of how class distinctions between possessors and non-possessors came to be.

Adam Smith's account of primitive-original accumulation depicted a peaceful process, in which some workers laboured more diligently than others and gradually built up wealth, eventually leaving the less diligent workers to accept living wages for their labour. Karl Marx rejected this explanation as "childishness," instead stating that, in the words of David Harvey, primitive accumulation "entailed taking land, say, enclosing it, and expelling a resident population to create a landless proletariat, and then releasing the land into the privatised mainstream of capital accumulation". This would be accomplished through violence, war, enslavement, and colonialism.

Ricardian economics

Ricardian economics are the economic theories of David Ricardo, an English political economist born in 1772 who made a fortune as a stockbroker and loan broker. At the age of 27, he read An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith and was energized by the theories of economics.

His main economic ideas are contained in On the Principles of Political Economy and Taxation (1817). This set out a series of theories which would later become theoretical underpinnings of both Marx's Das Kapital and Marshallian economics, including the theory of economic rent, the labour theory of value and above all the theory of comparative advantage.

Ricardo wrote his first economic article ten years after reading Adam Smith and ultimately, the "bullion controversy" gave him fame in the economic community for his theory on inflation in 19th-century England. This theory became known as monetarism, the theory that excess currency leads to inflation. He also played a part in the emergence of classical economics, which meant he fought for free trade and free competition without government interference by enforcing laws or restrictions.

Ricardian socialism

Ricardian socialism is a branch of classical economic thought based upon the work of the economist David Ricardo (1772–1823). The term is used to describe economists in the 1820s and 1830s who developed a theory of capitalist exploitation from the theory developed by Ricardo that stated that labor is the source of all wealth and exchange value. This principle extends back to the principles of English philosopher John Locke. The Ricardian socialists reasoned that labor is entitled to all it produces, and that rent, profit and interest were not natural outgrowths of the free market process but were instead distortions. They argued that private ownership of the means of production should be supplanted by cooperatives owned by associations of workers.

This designation is used in reference to economists in the early 19th century that elaborated a theory of capitalist exploitation from the classical economic proposition derived from Adam Smith and David Ricardo stating that labor is the source of wealth. Although Ricardian socialist thought had some influence on Karl Marx's theories, Marx rejected many of the fundamental assumptions of the Ricardian socialists, including the view that labor was the source of all wealth.

The Wealth of Nations

An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, generally referred to by its shortened title The Wealth of Nations, is the magnum opus of the Scottish economist and moral philosopher Adam Smith. First published in 1776, the book offers one of the world's first collected descriptions of what builds nations' wealth, and is today a fundamental work in classical economics. By reflecting upon the economics at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, the book touches upon such broad topics as the division of labour, productivity, and free markets.

To each according to his contribution

"To each according to his contribution" is a principle of distribution considered to be one of the defining features of socialism. It refers to an arrangement whereby individual compensation is reflective of one's contribution to the social product (total output of the economy) in terms of effort, labor and productivity. This is held in contrast to the method of distribution and compensation in capitalism, where those who own private property receive unearned income in the form of interest, rent, or profit by virtue of ownership irrespective of their contribution to the social product.This concept also formed the basic definition of socialism for its pre-Marxist proponents, including Ricardian socialists, classical economists, and individualist anarchists.

Underconsumption

In underconsumption theory in economics, recessions and stagnation arise due to inadequate consumer demand relative to the amount produced. It means that there is an overproduction and a demand crisis. The theory formed the basis for the development of Keynesian economics and the theory of aggregate demand after the 1930s.

Underconsumption theory narrowly refers to heterodox economists in Britain in the 19th century, particularly 1815 onwards, who advanced the theory of underconsumption and rejected classical economics in the form of Ricardian economics. These economists did not form a unified school, and their theories were rejected by mainstream economics of the time.

Underconsumption is an old concept in economics, going back to the 1598 French mercantilist text Les Trésors et richesses pour mettre l'Estat en Splendeur (The Treasures and riches to put the State in Splendor) by Barthélemy de Laffemas, if not earlier. The concept of underconsumption had been used repeatedly as part of the criticism of Say's Law until underconsumption theory was largely replaced by Keynesian economics which points to a more complete explanation of the failure of aggregate demand to attain potential output, i.e., the level of production corresponding to full employment.

One of the early underconsumption theories says that because workers are paid a wage less than they produce, they cannot buy back as much as they produce. Thus, there will always be inadequate demand for the product.

Use value

Use value (German: Gebrauchswert) or value in use is a concept in classical political economy and Marxian economics. It refers to the tangible features of a commodity (a tradeable object) which can satisfy some human requirement, want or need, or which serves a useful purpose. In Marx's critique of political economy, any product has a labor-value and a use-value, and if it is traded as a commodity in markets, it additionally has an exchange value, most often expressed as a money-price. Marx acknowledges that commodities being traded also have a general utility, implied by the fact that people want them, but he argues that this by itself tells us nothing about the specific character of the economy in which they are produced and sold.

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