International Trade and Economic Growth in Open Economies
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International Trade and Economic Growth in Open Economies

The Classical Dynamics of Hume, Smith, Ricardo and Malthus

John Berdell

In this enlightening book, John Berdell addresses the widely-held belief that classical economics distanced itself from policy issues and public debates regarding the effects of international trade on economic growth in advanced economies. He argues, through a detailed consideration of the evolution and structure of Hume’s, Smith’s, Ricardo’s and Malthus’ analyses, that it is not only contemporary international economic theory which takes account of these issues.
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John Berdell


This study traverses two quite distinct periods. Our two Scottish enlighteners figure prominently within a wide variety of recent disciplinary histories. They frequently appear among the headwaters of presently recognized disciplin es-su ch as economics, sociology, psychology, political science, or philosophy-though they are not without detractors who would relegate them to a rather distant prescientific influence on our present disciplines, or even to disciplinary dead ends. Be that as it may, vigorous defenders of their relevance across a wide range of disciplines are easily found, and these defenders have a t times evinced a lively interest in recovering the outlines of these enlighteners’ own disciplines. Hume’s discipline was the ‘science of man’, while Smith sought to establish a ‘science of the legislator’. Things are rather different when one turns to Malthus or Ricardo. Outside of economics, Malthus’s problematic demographic legacy is certainly well attended, and Ricardo’s politics have received respectful consideration. But the breadth of their interests was far narrower, though it was certainly interdisciplinary when measured by present standards. Regardless of whether the currently widespread perception of unprecedented openness is justified, economists have responded with a wide array of studies on the impact of international openness. But conceptualizing, modeling, and measuring the impact of openness upon the growth and distribution of national income has become a complex undertaking. Indeed, instructors of economics have been admonished to return to teaching Hume and Ricardo’s freer trade message, lest the fundamental issues get lost (Icrugman 1996,124-25). Yet enunciating exactly what that...

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