Sunday, July 10, 2005

Seth Kugel: candidate for the July Prize?

A great piece in New York Times, today, that manages to display accurate reporting of Adam Smith's contribution to market economics. It is about the mango markets in New York and how they operate as Smith described them in Scotland and England in his lectures at the University of Glagsow and in "Wealth of Nations".

Seth Kugel, who wrote the article, reports on a visit around the local markets and refers to the traders with names like "Patel" and "Mahendra" and their speaking with Gugarati accents, serving customers like Ms Abida Aleem. The description is of a Smithian market, the kind he used to explain supply and demand and the consequences when the "market price" strayed above or below the "natural price".

I quote a short extract from the start of Seth Kugel's article and refer you to the New York Times on-line to read and enjoy the rest (tutors in economics might find it useful as an illustration of a truly Smithian market):

"Jackson Heights
The Great Mango War Flares Once More
New York Times 10 July 2005

By Seth Kugel
Adam Smith probably never tasted a mango. But Smith, the 18th-century Scottish economist, would surely recognize his theories of supply and demand at work on the streets of Jackson Heights, Queens, one heart of the city's fiercely competitive mango market. "

On Smith probably never tasting a mango, Seth is probably correct. The famous Captain Bligh transplanted mango cuttings to the Caribbean in 1792 from Tahiti in HMS Providence (the ship he sailed after the ill-fated voyage of "HMS Bounty").

We do know, however, that Smith enjoyed local strawberries as his "favourite breakfast".


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