David Ricardo

25 Mar, 2021 330 Economics

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss one of the most influential economists from the age of Adam Smith and Thomas Malthus. Ricardo (1772 -1823) reputedly made his fortune at the Battle of Waterloo, and he made his lasting impact with his ideas on free trade. At a time when nations preferred to be self-sufficient, to produce all their own food and manufacture their own goods, and to find markets for export rather than import, Ricardo argued for free trade even with rivals for the benefit of all. He contended that existing economic policy unduly favoured landlords above all others and needed to change, and that nations would be less likely to go to war with their trading partners if they were more reliant on each other. For the last two hundred years, Ricardo’s Theory of Comparative Advantage in support of free trade has been developed and reinterpreted by generations of economists across the political spectrum.

Listen on BBC Sounds website


  • Matthew Watson 2 episodes
    Professor of Political Economy at the University of Warwick
  • Helen Paul 8 episodes
    Lecturer in Economics and Economic History at the University of Southampton
  • Richard Whatmore 6 episodes
    Professor of Modern History at the University of St Andrews and Co-Director of the St Andrews Institute of Intellectual History

Reading list

  • A History of Economic Thought
    William Barber (Penguin, 2009) Google Books →
  • That Noble Science of Politics: A Study in Nineteenth-Century Intellectual History
    Stefan Collini, Donald Winch and John Burrow (Cambridge University Press, 1983) Google Books →
  • Great Economic Thinkers: An Introduction from Adam Smith to Amartya Sen
    Jonathan Conlin (ed.) (Reaktion, 2018) Google Books →
  • The Worldly Philosophers: The Lives, Times and Ideas of the Great Economic Thinkers
    Robert Heilbroner (Penguin, 2000) Google Books →
  • David Ricardo: A Centenary Estimate
    Jacob Harry Hollander (Palala Press, 2015) Google Books →
  • Population Malthus: His Life and Times
    Patricia James (Routledge, 2005) Google Books →
  • The Elgar Companion to David Ricardo
    Heinz D. Kurz and Neri Salvadori (eds.) (Edward Elgar Publishing, 2015) Google Books →
  • Interpreting Ricardo
    Terry Peach (Cambridge University Press, 1993) Google Books →
  • A History of Economic Thought
    Eric Roll (Faber, 2002) Google Books →
  • The Enthusiasm of David Ricardo
    Ryan Walter ( Modern Intellectual History 15, 2018)
  • Historicising Ricardo's Comparative Advantage Theory, Challenging the Normative Foundations of Liberal IPE
    Matthew Watson ( New Political Economy, 22, 2017)
  • Riches and Poverty: An Intellectual History of Political Economy in Britain, 1750-1834
    Donald Winch (Cambridge University Press, 1996) Google Books →

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Programme ID: m000tfjk

Episode page: bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000tfjk

Auto-category: 330 (Economics)

Hello (First sentence from this episode) Hello. David Ricardo, 1772 to 1823, made his fortune at the Battle of Waterloo and subsequently made his lasting reputation as an economist.