Enter your mobile number below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
Getting the download link through email is temporarily not available. Please check back later.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Knowledge and the Wealth of Nations: A Story of Economic Discovery Paperback – May 17, 2007
Excel 2016 For Dummies Video Training
Discover what Excel can do for you with self-paced video lessons from For Dummies. Learn more.
Frequently Bought Together
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Top Customer Reviews
According to Smith, the pin factory demonstrated how economies of scale produced increasing returns by lowering the costs of production. What Smith didn't follow up on was that increasing returns enabled a few players or a single player to drive smaller firms out of business and create oligopolies or monopolies. Smith's other theorem, which ran counter to the example of the pin factory was the theorem of the invisible hand. The invisible hand required that many players compete in the marketplace in order for the market to function properly so that no one firm or group of firms could become dominant.
Economists since then have favored the theorem of the invisible hand over the pin factory, not only because it was ideologically correct, but that it lent itself more readily to economic modelling. Yet things were happening economically that indicated that the invisible hand - which argued that rising costs and diminishing returns were inevitable - was no longer adequate in describing what was has been taking place over the last thirty years.
In 1990, a young economist named Paul Romer published a paper entitled "Endogenous Technological Change." Romer noticed that economic growth was accelerating in rich countries where the standard of living was diverging rapidly from poorer countries. This was contradicting the law of diminishing returns and, indeed, indicated increasing returns.Read more ›
Too little time is devoted to offering adequate clear explanations of the economic ideas and theories being addressed, too much time is devoted to irrelevant social asides. The non-economist reader seeking to understand the economics as opposed to learning a great amount of academic gossip and politics will probably be disappointed. I wanted to understand growth theory. I did not and do not care that the reason why Paul Romer left Chicago for the Bay Area was that his wife had a disagreement with her lab manager or that Paul Romer has developed software to teach economics. I found such digressions to be unnecessary and distracting.
To cite just two of the book's specific limitations:
(1) The book lacks referential footnotes and a bibliography. Readers not already familiar with the subject wishing to pursue a topic further will be at a loss.
(2) The book lacks a glossary. Throughout the book numerous technical terms are introduced and, at best, briefly described. It would have been nice to have all of these key terms explained in one place for easy reference.
Small efforts on the part of the author would have remedied both of these deficiencies.
Technicalities aside, the book is a fascinating depiction of intellectual history. The author deftly manages to capture the entire economics "scene" in impressive details -- from economics' major academic journals and institutions, its division of schools and universities, the major players, their work and personalities, and even to the happenings at important conferences. Warsh's depiction is so lively as to give one the impression that he had been present through all the historical events, engaging personally with all the economists described.
Students in economics will benefit from this book for the perspective it provides. Readers interested in economics culture in general, or those who seek to catch up on the trends of economic thought leading up to the last decade also won't be disappointed. One would be hard pressed to find an account of recent intellectual history as rich as this for any academic discipline.
David Warsh attempts to bring Adam Smith's story back into balance. Using Paul Romer's seminal paper, "Endogenous Technological Change," published in the Journal of Political Economy in 1990 as the centerpiece, Warsh first weaves a story of economic growth theories since Smith. Warsh argues that the early dominance of the decreasing returns of the invisible hand is partially due to the general sense of scarcity as embodied in early thinkers like Malthus and because its analysis and maths are more tractable. It thus required the mathematical maturation of the profession for the question of the pin factory and increasing returns (and declining costs) to find a resolution. Yet even as the theories and the profession itself become more mathematical in the 20th century, Warsh sticks to a literal and easy-to-read narrative. His story covers virtually every major economist from Smith and Ricardo in the early years to the Nobel laureates Arrow to Solow prior to Romer. He traces the eras of neglect with the slow discoveries as to the factors leading to growth.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Very good overview of non-financial capital's role in growth.Published 11 months ago by Amazon Customer
Warsh does a terrific job of a) outlining the history of economic thought in the West, and the rise of the modern discipline of economics; b) sketching a sociology of the... Read morePublished on June 17, 2011 by Librum
BACKGROUND: In traditional economic models as well as in reality, average cost goes down when production volume goes up. Read morePublished on March 7, 2011 by Jackal
David Warsh has given us a non-technical survey of the theories of developmental economics from Adam Smith's great work by a similar name down to the present day. Read morePublished on July 30, 2008 by InsideWork Book Review
Despite its name, this book will not tell you very much about the wealth of nations. It is a history of economic thought rather than an economic history; specifically, the story... Read morePublished on May 25, 2008 by Declan Trott
If you want to know the present state of the art in economics, this book reads like a shaggy dog story. Read morePublished on April 3, 2008 by none
You will be disappointed if:
a) you expect a general summary of the history of economics
b) you are a technical economist
c) you expect layman's prose... Read more
A fine book spoiled only by the worst proofreading I have ever encountered in a similar book.Published on March 8, 2008 by Teacher
David Warsh presents the economic problem of increasing returns in this history of economic theory from Adam Smith up to Paul Romer, which is to say the present day. Read morePublished on October 4, 2007 by raboof