Articles & Blogs on Adam Smith

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The Case for Avoiding Price Controls in Times of Crisis: They Don’t Work

“Price control is an ancient form of regulation. Adam Smith was the first to criticise price regulation from an economics perspective, in his famous book The Wealth of Nations. Smith’s insight – which forms the basis of modern economists’ views of price control – was that attempts to arrest price increases during periods of scarcity (due to war or drought) are not helpful and lead to famine. Freezing price changes – or seeking to reduce prices below market-determined levels – is likely to maintain demand at levels which supply cannot meet.”

How Adam Smith Became a (Surprising) Hero to Conservative Economists

“Whatever your political leanings, one thing is clear: Smith speaks on both sides of a longstanding debate about the fundamental values of modern market-oriented society. But these arguments over Smith’s ideas and identity are not new. His complicated reputation today is the consequence of a long history of fighting to claim his intellectual authority.”

Adam Smith: His Life, Thought, and Legacy (2016) – New on Our Bookshelf

“These short essays range from studying the background of Smith’s works to elaborating his views on economics, politics, ethics, religion, social vision, morality, and philosophy. There are thirty-two separate chapters, each written by a scholar well-acquainted with Smith and his works”, say Paul Mueller in his review for the Economic History Association.

Market Power

“It is a no-brainer that business people don’t really like competitive market capitalism, despite all their exhortations about the value of markets. Just read any of The Wealth of Nations to find Adam Smith with the same view. Business people much prefer rigged markets, as long as they are on the inside. So it is no surprise that new research finds that converting health care insurance from non-profit to for-profit leads to a rise in premiums (not the fall that would be anticipated because of greater market efficiencies).”

Adam Smith on Externalities

“A friend recently inquired about Adam Smith’s view on externalities. A much longer post is needed to break apart several important ideas. First, one would need to disentangle the invisible hand concept from market “efficiency.” […] Second, while Smith does not discuss (to my awareness) externalities arising from environmental pollution, he did write that private market transactions could pollute or corrupt one’s mind. Here are two examples, one negative and one positive.”


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