Adam Smith's Legacy: His Place in the Development of Modern Economics

Adam Smith's Legacy: His Place in the Development of Modern Economics

Adam Smith's Legacy: His Place in the Development of Modern Economics

Adam Smith's Legacy: His Place in the Development of Modern Economics

Synopsis

Although Adam Smith died over two hundred years ago, his influence is still felt in many areas of contemporary economics. In this volume some of the world's leading economists pay tribute to Smith's continuing importance. The contributors write under three different headings. The first section considers The Wealth of Nations from today's perpective. Even though Smith lacked the sophisticated mathematical techniques of modern economists his theoretical and quantitative work is shown to be both acute and rigorous. The second section looks at modern applications of Smith's analysis. Again, the terms Smith uses when addressing issues in macro and labour economics might not be familiar, but the essentials of his analysis will be. Finally, the book considers the state of modern economics. Heirs to Smith as leaders of the discipline, the contributors assess the extent to which economics measures up to the bench-mark established by its founder. Both a tribute to the enduring value of Smith's work and an overview of,the current state of the discipline, this volume will be of interest to the whole economics community.

Excerpt

This book contains the proceedings of the conference held in the Usher Hall, Edinburgh, on 16-17 July 1990 to mark the bicentenary of the death of Adam Smith. It was not only for that reason a special occasion, but also because it brought together the largest number of Nobel laureates in Economic Science since the prize was instituted in 1969. Though not every one could be present personally, eleven of the laureates contributed in some way to the celebration. No less memorable was the collective participation of the audience. Drawn from thirty countries representing all continents, with notable delegations from Eastern Europe and Japan, it ranged from professors of economics through politicians, company chairmen, central bankers and journalists to schoolteachers and students.

The bicentenary was, however, far from just an act of respectful homage. in his native land, Smith has never ceased to be the subject of lively intellectual debate, even when his ideas were somewhat eclipsed elsewhere. and a generalist tradition of political economy has here survived the increasing technical sophistication of modern economics. So it has been especially gratifying to us to have seen, since the 1970s, the enormous revival of interest in what he had to say, not least in parts of the world where living advocates of freedom have been silenced.

Though at the conference we were on the whole spared attempts by ideologues to hijack Smith for their own causes, his legacy was still energetically disputed. the laureates, with the benefit of careers dating back in some cases to before the Second World War, yielded to nobody in their ability to fan the flames of controversy. To be sure, none declined to admit some debt in his own work to Smith, or denied the relevance today of the eloquent case made in The Wealth of Nations for economic liberty. in particular, everyone had profited

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