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International Trade and Economic Growth in Open Economies

The Classical Dynamics of Hume, Smith, Ricardo and Malthus John Berdell, Associate Professor of Economics, DePaul University, US
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.
Extent: 200 pp
Hardback Price: $127.00 Web: $114.30
Publication Date: 2002
ISBN: 978 1 85898 164 2
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  • Economics and Finance
  • Economic History
  • History of Economic Thought
  • International Economics
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.

Berdell uses a series of non-linear dynamic models to illustrate and analyse important aspects of each author’s discussion of the interactions between trade and growth. The findings are then extended to create a comparison of the classical models with recent empirical research in this area. Berdell suggests that John Stuart Mill’s plan to synthesise and extend Hume’s, Smith’s and Ricardo’s analysis of commercial society was rendered intractable by the limitations of Hume’s associationalist psychology.

This work will be of great interest to both historians of economic ideas and economists concerned with modelling the interactions between growth and international trade.
‘. . . this is a highly original, stimulating contribution to the study of classical economics. . . The book will be of interest to historians of economics for its path-breaking attempt to follow Waterman’s suggestions for writing good history, and it will be of interest to contemporary practitioners for its rational reconstructions.’
– Jeffrey T. Young, History of Economic Ideas

‘Berdell has written a sophisticated study of the relationship of openness to economic growth in the works of Hume, Smith, Ricardo, and Malthus. He has done so conscious of the historiographic pitfalls and has navigated around them with erudition, using his tools to illuminate not only our economics, but theirs.’
– Stephen Meardon, Journal of the History of Economic Thought

‘John Berdell’s International Trade and Economic Growth in Open Economies is a tour de force. The author has examined the contributions under the title’s rubric of Hume, Smith, Ricardo and Malthus. He draws on their original writings which he knows intimately and the vast secondary literature which he deploys with judgement and common sense. He teases out their conjectures on various aspects of the problems analysed, then uses his fine modelling and simulation skills to see how robust their ideas are. He relates his findings to very modern developments in the theory of trade and growth. In doing so, he demonstrates that a thorough knowledge of the contributions of past greats is indispensable to an understanding and illumination of the economic, political and social problems of the modern world. Not that he is uncritical of his predecessors and the commentators on them; rather he is sympathetically critical and subtle in drawing out their contributions and specifying their approaches in such a way as to make modern-type modelling possible and powerful. Berdell’s book is a fine example of why a knowledge of what went before greatly enriches our ability to understand, not only the past but also the present, and to design plausible policies for present-day ills.’
– G.C. Harcourt, University of New South Wales, Australia
Contents: Preface 1. Historical Dynamics: Cosmopolitan and International Part I: From Cosmopolitan to International: Four Classical Visions of Commercial Openness 2. Trading in Innovation: Hume and the Case for Freer Trade 3. Trading Animosity: Adam Smith and the Ambiguity of Nations 4. Stability and Openness: the Malthus–Ricardo Debate Part II: Some Classical Dynamics of Open Economy Growth 5. The Present Relevance of Hume’s Open Economy Monetary Dynamics 6. A Dynamic Model of the Division of Labor and the Extent of the Market 7. Effective Demand and Technical Change in the Ricardo–Malthus Debate Concluding Thoughts 8. Classical Political Economy: Back to Their Future? Bibliography Index