The Demystification of David Ricardo’s Famous Four Numbers
Jorge Morales Meoqui ()
No dyt83, OSF Preprints from Center for Open Science
The paper features a new interpretation of David Ricardo’s famous numerical example in chapter 7 of the Principles. It claims that the only purpose of the four numbers was to illustrate the proposition that the relative value of commodities produced in different countries is not determined by the respective quantities of labour devoted to the production of each. This exception would apply until capital begins to move between countries as easily as it does within the same country. Moreover, the paper debunks some entrenched myths about the numerical example. It shows that Ricardo did not leave the terms of trade unspecified; that the purpose of the four numbers was not about measuring the gains from trade; and lastly, that Portugal had no productivity advantage over England. All of this marks a radical departure from the way scholars have interpreted Ricardo’s numerical example since the mid-nineteenth century.
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