Policy Press

Ricardo’s Dream

How Economists Forgot the Real World and Led Us Astray

By Nat Dyer

Published

Nov 1, 2024

Page count

288 pages

ISBN

978-1529225501

Dimensions

216 x 240 mm

Imprint

Bristol University Press

Published

Nov 1, 2024

Page count

288 pages

ISBN

978-1529225518

Dimensions

216 x 138 mm

Imprint

Bristol University Press
Ricardo’s Dream

From the workings of financial markets to our response to the ecological crisis, economic theory shapes the world. But where do these ideas come from?

Ricardo’s Dream tells the fascinating story of David Ricardo, Adam Smith’s only real rival as the ‘founder of economics’: The wealthiest stock trader of his day, Ricardo introduced the study of abstract models to economics. He also developed the theory of trade that underpinned globalization and hides, behind its mathematical façade, a history of power, empire and slavery.

Brimming with fresh ideas and stories, Ricardo’s Dream shows how too many economists, from Ricardo’s day to our own, have turned away from observing the real world and led us astray.

“A fascinating investigation into the development of economic thought from David Ricardo’s era to the present day – and its impact on real lives and livelihoods. Wide-ranging and carefully researched, this book shows the temptations and dangers of assuming away too much of reality in the pursuit of elegant economic models. A heartfelt and reasoned call for a more human economics.” Erica Thompson, author of Escape from Model Land

Nat Dyer is a writer, researcher and campaigner specialising in global political economy and economic justice. He is a Fellow of the Schumacher Institute and the Royal Society of Arts. He previously worked for anti-corruption organisation Global Witness and as Programme Director for Promoting Economic Pluralism. His stories have been reported on by the BBC, the New York Times, and Bloomberg among others. Find out more at www.natdyer.com.

1. The Magic of Economics: A journey into the economist’s cave and back

2. The Invisible Humans: America imports polarisation

3. ‘Four magic numbers’: The origins of comparative advantage

4. Unequal treaty: The real story of English cloth and Portuguese wine

5. Black Gold: The Brazilian gold rush and the City of London

6. The Economist’s Creed: Ricardo takes over economics (twice)

7. Cheshire Cat Economics: More things disappear

8. Chimerica: America’s China stock

9. And Now For My Final Trick…: The disappearing living world

10. Looking At The World: Untangling economics, science and power