Monday, January 28, 2008

Now Look at What Adam Smith is Blamed For This Time

Was Adam Smith the intellectual inspiration for the alleged wrongdoings of the French fund trader?

This is implied in today’s Daily Telegraph (here) under the title: ‘Phone records could be key to Kerviel case’ by Peter Allen:

A former colleague revealed that Mr Kerviel, who recently split from a partner, was "more interested in liberal economics than finding a new girlfriend.
The source added: "But you never saw him taking anyone out, and he didn't talk about girls. Recently he spen[t] all his spare time re-reading Adam Smith's Wealth of a Nation, which is his favourite book

Adam Smith's magnum opus, first published in 1776, is the first comprehensive defence of free market, liberal economics - the kind many French blame for making 'Anglo-Saxon' countries like Britain and America over-competitive, too hard working, obsessed with money, and ultimately corrupt and unpleasant to live in.
Yesterday the junior trader was expected to be charged with an array of complex financial offences and brought before a court in the French capital.
If found guilty of charges including computer misuse and forgery he could be facing a 15-year prison term

Wow! Reading Wealth Of Nations drives you to arranging things to increase your own money wealth?

And note: it was his ‘re-reading’ Wealth Of Nations, not just reading it for the first time, that caused some sort of revelatory life-changing epiphany.

I am impressed. Can’t say reading Wealth Of Nations had that effect on me, though it’s early days, I suppose.

Mostly, reading Adam Smith has had the opposite affect on me, especially when leavened with strong doses of Moral Sentiments, and its semi-mocking tone about ‘the poor man’s son [in my case, the poor mother’s son], whom heaven in its anger has visited with ambition, when he begins to look around him, admires the condition of the rich’ and ‘in the last dregs of life’ he ‘begins at last to find that wealth of greatness are mere trinkets of frivolous utility’ (TMS IV.1.8: p 180).

But then I live in one of the 'Anglo-Saxon' (plus Scotland) countries ‘too hard working’ [according to my family – reading Adam Smith, of course!], [not] obsessed with [the absence of] money and [not] ultimately corrupt and [Scotland is not an] unpleasant to live in.’


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