Quotation of the Day…

by Don Boudreaux on February 5, 2013

in Adam Smith, Balance of Payments, Trade

… is from page 279 of my colleague Larry White’s 2012 volume, The Clash of Economic Ideas (footnote omitted; link added):

One of Hume’s and Smith’s prominent followers, the English classical economist Nassau Senior, in an 1827 lecture ridiculed “that extraordinary monument of human absurdity, the Mercantile Theory, – or, in other words, the opinion that wealth consists of gold and silver, and may be indefinitely increased by forcing their importation, and preventing their exportation: a theory which has occasioned, and still occasions, more vice, misery, and war, than all other errors put together.”

…. The tinge of mercantilist thinking remains in the common label according to which an excess of exports over imports [of goods and services] is a “positive” balance of trade.

The Nassau Senior quotation is from page 35 of Senior’s 1828 tract, Three Lectures on the Transmission of the Precious Metals from Country to Country, and the Mercantile Theory of Wealth.

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