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The Wealth of Nations (Modern Library) Hardcover – January 25, 1994
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"From the Trade Paperback edition.
Top Customer Reviews
Now, if you're wondering whether you should undertake such an endeavor, let me just say that Adam Smith was a professor of rhetoric. He explains everything so precisely, yet so comprehensible. Smith's writing is by no means difficult; I actually found it a surprisingly easy read given its antique nature. Once you get through the first chapter, you get quite used to Smith's writing style. If you put adequate time and energy into it, it's not hard at all.
1. Standards of living are determined by the productivity of workers.
2. Productivity of workers is greatly enhanced by specialization (see the famous example of the pin factory in the first chapter!).
3. Greater specialization is possible only if the market size grows. Thus, government laws that prohibit growth of the market hurt specialization, and thereby keep living standards from rising. This is why Smith opposed laws that restricted trade or created monopolies. Smith actively worked to keep Britain from going to war against its American colonies over trade issues. The Wealth of Nations is a political tract designed to sway the British parliament (obviously it failed in that regard).
4. Productivity of workers is enhanced by raising their wages.
5. Productivity of workers is enhanced by publicly funded education.
6. The role of markets is exquisitely analyzed by Smith. Self-interest leads people to carry out private activities that lead to social betterment, as if by an "invisible hand."
7. It is a serious misinterpretation of Smith to assert that greed or selfishness is the same as self-interest. Smith labored hard to avoid any such confusion. Please see his other book which addresses this specific issue: The Theory of Moral Sentiments.
8. Clearly Smith favored limited government. But Smith was NOT a strict advocate of laissez-faire.Read more ›
Adam Smith's "Wealth of Nations" is a worthy book for any private library, but purchase an edition other than the one offered by the so-called "Great Minds Series."
The introduction and chapters 2, 3, and 4 of book 3 are simply not there. They are not even listed in the table of contents. There is no discrepency in the page numbers, or any other teletale indication that it is incomplete. It is not written anywhere that it is an abrigement.
I want to point out how careless it is and how misleading to the reader in comprehending the philosophy of Adam Smith to print an incomplete book without any warning.
He starts by exploring the need for specialization of labour once societies advance beyond the hunter gatherer phase. As a result each individual is incapable of sustaining his basic needs and thus must purchase these using his labour which Smith views as the source of all value. As a result demand and supply is created for such labour.
He makes the natural assumption that each individual pursues their best interests.
He foreshadows the concepts of marginal utility and scarcity in determining the shapes of demand curves for commodities. ( He never actually mentions curves ).
Similarly, he describes the three factors determining supply prices for commodities ( rent of land, wages and capital costs ) and the various factors which influence them ( the equivalent of modern supply/demand curves for each factor ).
He puts these together under ideal circumstances to show how supply and demand meet to clear markets ( equilibrium in modern language ).
He then turns to macroeconomics laying the foundations for GDP and shows how capital can be distributed to "unproductive labour" ( that labour used to maintain productive labour ) such as doctors lawyer entertainers etc and "productive labour" ( that labour used in the manufacture and distribution of raw and finished products ). He explores the consequences of various distribution of each from both the micro and macroeconomic perspective.
He concludes by emphasizing the importance of government in providing international and domestic security as well as providing public works and institutions especially education.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is a review for the content not the formatting or particular edition. This book should be required reading for any person who wishes to be literate in economics. Read morePublished 14 hours ago by Nicholas Yukich
I wish I had read 'Wealth of Nations' years ago. Adam Smith explained in great detail how the market economy works with straight-forward examples that are easy to understand. Read morePublished 4 days ago by Richard Carroll
This is a matter of pride in myself for the personal resolve to read this. It's fine (and I was totally aware of the POV and economic construct prior to purchase) but dammit! Read morePublished 11 days ago by Kathleen M. Larkin
Classic political economy book. You don't have to read the book to understand his main points, but if you want to understand how he reaches his conclusions it's very interesting. Read morePublished 12 days ago by Tallon Howie