Happy 290th Birthday Adam Smith!

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I’m pretty gutted that I’m a day late wishing Adam Smith a happy birthday, but so be it. You can’t win them all.

Here’s a snippet from the ASI website. They’ve posted a couple of terrific links to Smith-related resources which I’ll be delving into over the next few weeks.

From their blog: “Had Adam Smith somehow survived until today, he would be 290 years old, having been born on 5th June 1723. The economist, now adorning the £20 note and credited with founding the modern discipline of economics (or political economy as it was known earlier) was originally renowned as a moral philosopher for his widely respected Theory of Moral Sentiments”. Read the rest.


Trade and the Zero-Sum Fallacy


Economics is Fun Series – Part 4 – Trade

Another great video from the Adam Smith Institute. This week Madsen Pirie looks at trade and also dispatches the zero-sum fallacy (the “big cake” argument which says that trade must leave someone worse off). He also recommends a way to make poorer nations richer – “buy their stuff”! Watch and learn.

Want more? Watch the previous episode on specialisation.

Down with your staccato triangles of change!


Adam Smith (Institute) vs Karl Marx

A really succinct and excellent piece by Madsen Pirie here on what Marx got wrong, particularly about his Hegelian model of change. As Pirie argues, change is more evolutionary than revolutionary, which means Hegel’s rather violent and triangular model of thesis, antithesis and synthesis is not a great means of describing what actually happens. Read Madsen’s piece on the ASI Website.

The Pin Factory


Economics is Fun Series – Part 3 – Specialisation

More great stuff from the Adam Smith Institute. This week Madsen Pirie looks at specialisation and mass production, picking up on both the Wealth of Nations and the genius of Eli Whitney in the process.

Here’s Adam Smith himself on the benefits of specialisation:

This great increase in the quantity of work, which, in consequence of the division of labour, the same number of people are capable of performing, is owing to three different circumstances; first, to the increase of dexterity in every particular workman; secondly, to the saving of the time which is commonly lost in passing from one species of work to another; and, lastly, to the invention of a great number of machines which facilitate and abridge labour, and enable one man to do the work of many.

Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations

Want more? Watch the previous episode on price.

The price of everything and the value of nothing


Economics is Fun Series – Part 1 – Value

This is the first in a series of short videos on the basic concepts of Economics, produced by the Adam Smith Institute and featuring the eccentric but rather brilliant Dr. Madsen Pirie. I’ll be posting more quick videos from this excellent series over the coming weeks.

First up, why objects have no value and what Marx got wrong about labour.

For those of you who are interested in finding our more about Madsen Pirie, I’d suggest his Economics Made Simple followed by the (more fun) and provocative How To Win Every Argument.