Adam Smith: International Perspectives

Springer
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Adam Smith (1723-90) is well known as the author of The Wealth of Nations and as a champion of free enterprise but he also wrote on moral philosophy and lectured on rhetoric and jurisprudence. This collection reveals a new portrait of the well known economist, not as a simple-minded champion of free trade but as an interdisciplinary social scientist with a moral philosophy for the modern world. His legacy should not be restricted to economics and to the English-speaking world.
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Publisher
Springer
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Published on
Jul 27, 2016
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Pages
328
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ISBN
9781349225200
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Language
English
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Genres
Business & Economics / Economic History
Business & Economics / Economics / General
Political Science / General
Political Science / History & Theory
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This content is DRM protected.
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This reader in the history of economic thought challenges the assumption that today’s prevailing economic theories are always the most appropriate ones. As Leland Yeager has pointed out, unlike the scientists of the natural sciences, economists provide their ideas largely to politicians and political appointees who have rather different incentives that might prevent them from choosing the best economic theory. In this book, the life and work of each of the founders of economics is examined by the best available expert on that founding figure. These contributors present rather novel and certainly not mainstream interpretations of the founders of modern economics.

The primary theme concerns the development of economic thought as this emerged in the various continental traditions including the Islamic tradition. These continental traditions differed substantially, both substantively and methodologically, from the Anglo-Saxon orientation that has been dominant in the last century for example in the study of public finance or the very construct of the state itself. This books maps the various channels of continental economics, particularly from the late-18th through the early-20th centuries, explaining and demonstrating the underlying unity amid the surface diversity. In particular, the book emphasizes the writings of John Stuart Mill, his predecessor David Ricardo and his follower Jeremy Bentham; the theory of Marginalism by von Thünen, Cournot, and Gossen; the legacy of Karl Marx; the innovations in developmental economics by Friedrich List; the economic and monetary contributions and “struggle of escape” by John Maynard Keynes; the formidable theory in public finance and economics by Joseph Schumpeter; a reinterpretation of Alfred Marshall; Léon Walras, Heinrich von Stackelberg, Knut Wicksell, Werner Sombart, and Friedrich August von Hayek are each dealt with in their own right.

In this survey of the great exponents of the classical tradition, Vincent Bladen examines the thought and works of Adam Smith, T.R. Malthus, Henry Thornton, David Ricardo, J.S. Mill, Karl Marx, W.S. Jevons, Alfred Marshall, and John Maynard Keynes, and relates their views to modern situations. This is a personal introduction by one of Canada’s senior economists to some of the great books in the English literature of political economy. Vincent Bladen wrote it to induce an interest in and an understanding of the economic classics, in the belief that contemplation of those works will increase our understanding of current economic writing and current economic problems.

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Brilliant and engagingly written, Why Nations Fail answers the question that has stumped the experts for centuries: Why are some nations rich and others poor, divided by wealth and poverty, health and sickness, food and famine?

Is it culture, the weather, geography? Perhaps ignorance of what the right policies are?

Simply, no. None of these factors is either definitive or destiny. Otherwise, how to explain why Botswana has become one of the fastest growing countries in the world, while other African nations, such as Zimbabwe, the Congo, and Sierra Leone, are mired in poverty and violence?

Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson conclusively show that it is man-made political and economic institutions that underlie economic success (or lack of it). Korea, to take just one of their fascinating examples, is a remarkably homogeneous nation, yet the people of North Korea are among the poorest on earth while their brothers and sisters in South Korea are among the richest. The south forged a society that created incentives, rewarded innovation, and allowed everyone to participate in economic opportunities.

The economic success thus spurred was sustained because the government became accountable and responsive to citizens and the great mass of people. Sadly, the people of the north have endured decades of famine, political repression, and very different economic institutions—with no end in sight. The differences between the Koreas is due to the politics that created these completely different institutional trajectories.

Based on fifteen years of original research Acemoglu and Robinson marshall extraordinary historical evidence from the Roman Empire, the Mayan city-states, medieval Venice, the Soviet Union, Latin America, England, Europe, the United States, and Africa to build a new theory of political economy with great relevance for the big questions of today, including:

- China has built an authoritarian growth machine. Will it continue to grow at such high speed and overwhelm the West?

- Are America’s best days behind it? Are we moving from a virtuous circle in which efforts by elites to aggrandize power are resisted to a vicious one that enriches and empowers a small minority?

- What is the most effective way to help move billions of people from the rut of poverty to prosperity? More philanthropy from the wealthy nations of the West? Or learning the hard-won lessons of Acemoglu and Robinson’s breakthrough ideas on the interplay between inclusive political and economic institutions?

Why Nations Fail will change the way you look at—and understand—the world. 
Just as Steve Coll told the story of globalization through ExxonMobil and Andrew Ross Sorkin told the story of Wall Street excess through Too Big to Fail, Christopher Leonard’s Kochland uses the extraordinary account of how one of the biggest private companies in the world grew to be that big to tell the story of modern corporate America.

The annual revenue of Koch Industries is bigger than that of Goldman Sachs, Facebook, and U.S. Steel combined. Koch is everywhere: from the fertilizers that make our food to the chemicals that make our pipes to the synthetics that make our carpets and diapers to the Wall Street trading in all these commodities. But few people know much about Koch Industries and that’s because the billionaire Koch brothers want it that way.

For five decades, CEO Charles Koch has kept Koch Industries quietly operating in deepest secrecy, with a view toward very, very long-term profits. He’s a genius businessman: patient with earnings, able to learn from his mistakes, determined that his employees develop a reverence for free-market ruthlessness, and a master disrupter. These strategies have made him and his brother David together richer than Bill Gates.

But there’s another side to this story. If you want to understand how we killed the unions in this country, how we widened the income divide, stalled progress on climate change, and how our corporations bought the influence industry, all you have to do is read this book.

Seven years in the making, Kochland reads like a true-life thriller, with larger-than-life characters driving the battles on every page. The book tells the ambitious tale of how one private company consolidated power over half a century—and how in doing so, it helped transform capitalism into something that feels deeply alienating to many Americans today.
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