Richard Ebeling emails:
I have a new article on the website of the Future of Freedom Foundation on, “Economic Ideas: David Ricardo on Wealth, Inflation and Freedom.”
David Ricardo (1772-1823) was one of the most famous of the early nineteenth century British economists on such themes the harm from paper money inflation, the benefits from free trade, and the value of civil liberty and private property for a free society.
Disinherited by his father at an early age because of his marital choice, Ricardo went on to make a fortune in financial dealings, and he explained how he made his investment decisions to become wealthy.
His business successes enabled him to retire in his 40s and turn his attention to the new subject of “political economy.” He first made his reputation as a critic of the creation of irredeemable paper money as the means of funding the British government’s war expenditures against France, and how this caused price inflation at home and a falling value of the British pound on the foreign exchange markets. He insisted that the only way to assure a sound and stable currency was to require the Bank of England to redeem its banknotes for a fixed quantity of gold, that is, a functioning gold standard.
He also served for four years as a Member of Parliament in the House of Commons. In this capacity he not only called for economic reforms in the direction of free trade, but also insisted upon the essentialness of a vibrant free press and the protected institutions of private property and free enterprise is a free society was to be maintained and prosper.