Friday , December 14 2018
Home / EconLog Library / David Warsh on Adam Smith

David Warsh on Adam Smith

Summary:
I’m reading and enjoying David Warsh’s Knowledge and the Wealth of Nations. I hadn’t read it when it came out, but I need to now to write the Paul Romer bio for The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics. Warsh, who was a long-time economics columnist for the Boston Globe, is an excellent writer. Not many people can write a 300+ page book about economic thinking that is a suspenseful page turner. Normally I hate suspense in non-fiction writing; I want the author to tell me the damn point in the first few pages. But Warsh has succeeded in keeping me reading. By the way, he did a nice review of The Fortune Encyclopedia of Economics in the Boston Globe when the book came out in 1993. So with that preface, guess what: I’m going to do what I sometimes do, which is be

Topics:
David Henderson considers the following as important: , , , ,

This could be interesting, too:

David Henderson writes David Warsh on Selling Expenses versus Invisible Hand

David Henderson writes Karl Marx on Modern Retirement and as Early Julian Simon

David Henderson writes Jeff Hummel on Slobodian

David Henderson writes From the Vault: My Correspondence with Robert Lekachman

David Warsh on Adam Smith

I’m reading and enjoying David Warsh’s Knowledge and the Wealth of Nations. I hadn’t read it when it came out, but I need to now to write the Paul Romer bio for The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics. Warsh, who was a long-time economics columnist for the Boston Globe, is an excellent writer. Not many people can write a 300+ page book about economic thinking that is a suspenseful page turner. Normally I hate suspense in non-fiction writing; I want the author to tell me the damn point in the first few pages. But Warsh has succeeded in keeping me reading.

By the way, he did a nice review of The Fortune Encyclopedia of Economics in the Boston Globe when the book came out in 1993.

So with that preface, guess what: I’m going to do what I sometimes do, which is be critical. On page 44, Warsh quotes the following famous passage from Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations:

People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices.

Warsh then writes immediately following:

Collusion for a time can make it so. In these circumstances, government has certain responsibilities to act.

Walsh seems pretty clearly to be expressing his views, but readers who don’t know Smith well may think that he is telling us Smith’s views.

Question: Is Warsh telling us Smith’s views? If so, why? If not, why not?

David Henderson
David Henderson is a British economist. He was the Head of the Economics and Statistics Department at the OECD in 1984–1992. Before that he worked as an academic economist in Britain, first at Oxford (Fellow of Lincoln College) and later at University College London (Professor of Economics, 1975–1983); as a British civil servant (first as an Economic Advisor in HM Treasury, and later as Chief Economist in the Ministry of Aviation); and as a staff member of the World Bank (1969–1975). In 1985 he gave the BBC Reith Lectures, which were published in the book Innocence and Design: The Influence of Economic Ideas on Policy (Blackwell, 1986).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *