Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Invisible Hand no 32

Economics 101

A very popular Blog author, seeking help from his audience of economists, asks for comments on his proposed syllabus for his 101 class of mature adults in economics:

“I am starting with the basic law of Supply and Demand, Incentives, then on to Utility for individuals and Profit Maximizing for firms, Smith's Invisible Hand.”

40 comments – yet not one commented on the inclusion of ‘Smith’s invisible hand’!

This is where the abuse of Adam Smith’s legacy begins. The tutors teach what they heard from their tutors, and their students go on to teach what they heard to the next intake of students in their classes, or write about economics in Blogs, media pieces or in speeches to clubs, re-unions and friends at dinner parties.

What few of them do is actually read Adam Smith and the single example in ‘Wealth of Nations” of his use of a lonely metaphor, which was not his, but Shakespeare’s (Macbeth, 3:2), and had nothing to do with a ‘theory’ of markets, or even about markets.


Read the piece for yourself (and note that the rest of the Blog is good value):


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