Saturday, January 13, 2018

BUY THIS BOOK!

Alex Massie's and Mike Norman's reviews of the excellent long biographical essay by Dennis Rasmussen on the academic and friendly relationship between David Hume and Adam Smith : The Infidel and the Professor, Princeton University, 2017, continues to receive excellent reviews.
I urge readers to order their own copies and/or to influence  purchases by their departmental/university colleagues.
  

MIKE NORMAN ENDORSES LOST LEGACY ON THE INVISIBLE HAND

Gavin Kennedy — Lost Legacy’s Stance of the Invisible Hand Is Endorsed by Mike Norman HERE
https://heterodox.economicblogs.org/mike-norman-economics/2017/norman-gavin-kennedy-legacies-invisible-hand-endorsed#comment-1314

Mike Norman is an economist and veteran trader whose career has spanned over 30 years on Wall Street. He is a former member and trader on the CME, NYMEX, COMEX and NYFE and he managed money for one of the largest hedge funds and ran a prop trading desk for Credit Suisse.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

AN AUTHENTIC ACCOUNT OF ADAM SMITH

   An Authentic Account of Adam Smith by Gavin Kennedy
  Table of contents
  Introduction Pages 1-7 
  How Adam Smith Learned to Bargain Pages 9-34 
  Adam Smith on Rhetoric and Perspicuity Pages 35-55 
Smith’s Alleged Religiosity Pages 163-196
PUBLISHED NOW ON LINE - 2 WEEKS LATER IN PRINT

JESSIE NORMAN's NEW eBOOK PUBLISHED in USA

Jessie Norman, author ofEdmund Burke: The Visionary Who Invented Modern Politics new e-book: The First Economist HERE  
Somewhat bizarrely Norman’s ebook is not available in the UK (yet?).

Synopsis”
Adam Smith (1723-1790) is one of the great philosophers of the modern age. Acclaimed as the "father of economics," he influenced heads of state from Napoleon to Ronald Reagan and thinkers as diverse as Karl Marx and Milton Friedman, and is regarded as the emblem of today's free market neoliberal capitalism. His book The Wealth of Nations and its ideas of free trade and "the invisible hand" have become the gospel of economists and businesspeople around the world.
But just who was Adam Smith-the father of economics, a prophet of modern capitalism or a market socialist who inspired Karl Marx? A plagiarist of French and Scottish Enlightenment thinkers, or a true original? A didactic moralist, or a value-free neoliberal in embryo? Or something rather different, and vastly more interesting?
In Adam Smith, Jesse Norman reveals that Smith was not the founder of economics, nor the progenitor of free market capitalism, nor an advocate of complete market deregulation. He did not think of himself as an economist, and he would have repudiated the self-interested ethos of the modern capital markets. Far from being the foundation of today's neoliberal orthodoxy, his thought offers a deep critique of that orthodoxy. He is in truth a profound analyst and critic of economic fragmentation and social decay.
Drawing on the full range of available sources-going far beyond The Theory of Moral Sentiments and Wealth of Nations-Norman shows that Smith's great project was nothing less than a "science of man." Smith deduced that human sociability is rooted not in reason but in the imagination: in the sympathy that allows us to identify and find common ground with others who may be utterly different from us.
Telling Smith's life and delving into Smith's thought, Norman disabuses readers of their false preconceptions, and argues that his actual ideas are of great relevance for us today. To Norman, Smith offers an ethical perspective on human affairs, a thoroughgoing critique of free markets and their governance, and a deep insight into the well-springs of human society and sociability. In short, Smith is not the cause of the Age of Inequality, but rather offers solution to it.”

COMMENT

Looks interesting. Makes a change from the dominant opinion of Adam Smith as the ‘founder of capitalism’ and the ‘theorist’ (sic) of the ‘invisible hand’, etc. 
I shall have to explore Norman’s ideas in greater detail before commenting further.

Friday, January 05, 2018

ANOTHER UNINFORMED SOURCE ABOUT ADAM SMITH

Door Jerome Crijins posts 3 Jnauary, 2018 on Linked In HERE
“Back in 1776, Adam Smith popularized the notion of an ‘invisible hand’ in the global economy. He was a liberalist avant-la-lettre­ and profoundly believed in the unintended social benefits stemming from a free market. This mechanism would naturally steer a country towards welfare maximization. In the age of Google and Amazon, an entirely different invisible hand seems at play.”
COMMENT
Wrong! 
Adam Smith did not “popularise” the “notion of an invisible hand in the global economy in 1776”.
The words appeared ONCE only in his ‘Wealth of Nations’ published in London in 1776, and repeated in all five editions of his famous book up to 1789.
BUT! And it is a big ‘but’. 
Hardly anybody noticed Smith’s use of the now famous metaphor while he was alive, and nor for many years after he died until a few isolated mentions appeared in the 1870s. The absent non-mentions were evident even in the major volumes published by many of the leading political economists (Ricardo, Mill, etc.,) in the 19th century. 

Even after then, mentions of Adam Smith’s use of the now famous metaphor of ‘an invisible hand’ remained sparse, right through to the mid-20th century, when Paul Samuelson published his series of Econ 101 textbooks via McGraw-Hill from 1948 through to 2010, which included false claims about Adam Smith’s use of the now famous metaphor.

Monday, January 01, 2018

TIM WORSTALL AND GOOD SENSE ON MARKETS

Tim Worstall posts (1 January, 2018) on Adam Smith Institute HERE https://www.adamsmith.org/blog/?author=56f9031a356fb09629e92dbd
The reason being that markets and the economy are complex things. It is impossible to calculate the effects through multiple iterations and third and fourth level effects. Thus, if intervention there is going to be that intervention has to be a simple one, a change to the price system. So that we can then use the price system and those markets as our great calculating engine. …
… What did they do instead? They tried to be clever, tried and failed to navigate and calculate through the effects. Thus we end up with something entirely counterproductive, something both more expensive and also with higher carbon emissions. Not the point at all. …
…And all the result of the fools thinking that we can plan something as complex as an economy. It really isn't just a failure of this particular plan, it's a failure of the very concept of detailed planning in the first place. 
COMMENT
I have found over recent years that Tim Worstall of the Adam Smith Institute, of which he is a Senior Felllow, writes more good sense as an economist than most others whom I read in Blog Land.
His New Year day’s piece (extracts above) is masterly and typical of his good sense as an economist.

Disclosure: I am a Fellow of the Adam Smith Society…

Sunday, December 31, 2017

GREAT NEWS ABOUT ADAM SMITH'S PANMURE HOUSE

Heather McGreggor, Dean of Edinburgh Business School, has announced (31 December) that Panmure House, former Home of Adam Smith from 1788 to 1790, in Edinburgh, is close to raising the final tranche of the necessary funds to complete its restoration which  was commenced in 2005. Below is the text of the official announcement of this excellent news.

OFFICIAL PRESS RELEASE BY KATE WHITEHEAD:
Latest News about restoration of Panmure House where Adam Smith (1723-1790) lived from 1778-1790.
How Hong Kong helped restore Adam Smith’s former home in Edinburgh to create venue for the world’s greatest minds to meet
Panmure House, the only surviving residence of the 18th century economist, is being turned into a hub for the latest academic thinking thanks in part to fund-raising in Hong Kong led by Bank of East Asia’s David Li. 
Keith Lumsden, founder of EBS – the graduate school of business of Heriot-Watt University in the same city – was an economist and passionate supporter of Smith’s ideas, and couldn’t bear to see the property go to waste. He arranged for EBS to buy it in 2008, and five years later led a fundraising drive to raise money to restore the house, which included a trip to Hong Kong.
“Keith came out with the Duke of Buccleuch, a prominent supporter of the Panmure House restoration campaign,” says Andrew Burns, manager of the management office of Hong Kong’s Bank of East Asia (BEA). “His great-great-great-grandfather was mentored and taught by Adam Smith and he regaled us with some fascinating stories.”
Two dinners in Hong Kong hosted by David Li Kwok-po, a knight and the chairman and chief executive of BEA, helped drum up support for restoring the 17th-century house. This included re-slating the roof, conserving the exterior stonework, and replacing the timber sash and casement windows.
“The single largest number of donors came from here and they were all convened by David Li,” McGregor says. “It would not be an exaggeration to say that this project would not even have got this far without the help of David Li. Hong Kong has been the most supportive community in the world.”
But while that initial drive paved the way for the exterior of the house to be repaired, there was little follow-up and the project floundered. Then McGregor came along. A former investment banker, she was also known as “Mrs Moneypenny” after her entertaining weekly column in the Financial Times that ran from 1999 to 2016, in which she memorably referred to her three children as Cost Centres #1, #2 and #3.
In her column, Mrs Moneypenny came across as a doer. McGregor is much like that in the flesh, epitomising the saying: “If you want something done, ask a busy person.”
“I started [as executive dean] on September 1 and we broke ground [on Panmure House] on October 12,” McGregor says.
Determined to get the project underway – so that they could make the most of a favourable currency exchange and get started before construction costs increased – McGregor decided to borrow the money to complete the renovation and then ask people to help repay the loan. She is hoping to raise £1 million (US$1.3 million) and the university will contribute on a matching basis.
This is why she was in Hong Kong: first to thank donors and show them how far the project has progressed, and then to raise more funds.
But why should Hong Kong care about an old building in Scotland? There are plenty of reasons, which start from back when Hong Kong was ceded to the British in 1842.
“The radical ideas that flowered in 18th-century Scotland changed the way the world thought and acted, and Panmure House sat at the heart of it all,” McGregor says. “When Hong Kong was founded as a trading colony, it was a time when Adam’s memory and ideas were very current.”
There are also strong business ties between Scotland and Hong Kong, and there remains a strong Scottish presence in the city. “So many companies were founded by people coming here from Scotland. The whole of HSBC is essentially a Scottish bank. All the major hongs [foreign traders] here had huge Scottish representation,” McGregor says.
McGregor also has strong Hong Kong connections – it is where she married her Australian husband and earned her PhD from the University of Hong Kong (HKU). Since university professors often wear the academic robes pertaining to their highest degree, she spends a lot of time in HKU robes
The renovation of Panmure House is due to be completed in September 2018 and McGregor has big plans for the building – including bringing some of the world’s greatest minds and biggest thinkers to Edinburgh.
“Every year we want a Nobel Prize winner to come to Panmure House. And we want visiting scholars to come, and PhD students from Hong Kong,” McGregor says.
The house will not serve as a residence, but is being set up so that it is part of the university. The two large rooms on the ground floor will serve as space for lectures, exhibitions and public talks. Of the two smaller rooms on the upper floor, one will be set aside for a Nobel Prize winner or other academic to study for short periods of time, and the other will accommodate two PhD students.
McGregor hopes to create something similar to The Friends of Cambridge University in Hong Kong, a group founded by Li in 1981. The group established and manages a scholarship fund that has since supported 170 Hong Kong students to do their undergraduate degrees at Cambridge University. McGregor hopes a similar scheme could regularly bring Hong Kong students to Edinburgh to do their doctorate degrees.
“I would like people to come from Hong Kong, go to Edinburgh and come back and say, ‘I did six months or a year of my PhD research at a desk in the house where Adam Smith lived’,” she says.
Smith entered university at a young age, earned his undergraduate degree at the University of Glasgow and got a postgraduate scholarship to study at Oxford University. McGregor is so familiar with the details of his life that she talks about him as though he were a personal acquaintance. “I feel like I’ve known him,” she says.
She laughs as she recounts a letter Smith wrote to Scottish philosopher David Hume about his European grand tour with Henry Scott, the third Duke of Buccleuch.
“Adam wrote to David Hume saying how bored he was. ‘Here we are, another day in Florence, another painting.’ He liked to surround himself with people and debate big ideas, and I don’t think endless culture was doing it for him,” McGregor say.ch will serve as She hopes to continue that tradition of bringing great minds together to ponder great ideas.
“The important thing about a heritage asset is that it is used in a way that you could only use that building – and we’ll be doing that by bringing these incredible thinkers from all over the world,” McGregor says.
“I hope that the association with Hong Kong continues for many years, and one of the ways I hope that happens is by creating a scholarship for people to come and study there. I would want to have it for Hong Kong nationals who got through their first degree here and then would like to come and do their PhD with us.”

Find out more about the project at www.panmurehouse.org
COMMENT
THIS IS EXCELLENT NEWS. 
I WAS A PROFESSOR AT EDINBURGH BUSINESS SCHOOL WHEN THE PANMURE HOUSE PROJECT WAS INITIATED  BY OUR PURCHASE OF THE PANMURE HOUSE BUILDING FOR £800,000 FROM OUR OWN FUNDS AND DONATIONS.  
I HAD ALSO RETIRED FROM THE UNIVERSITY  TO CONCENTRATE ON ACADEMIC WORK, AND RESEARCH.
I HAVE KEPT AN EYE ON THE PANMURE HOUSE PROJECT SINCE THEN AND THIS NEWS IS A SPLENDID VISION THAT LOOKS FINALLY READY TO COMPLETE WHAT WAS BEGUN, AND KEPT ALIVE, UNDER PROFESSOR KEITH LUMSDEN'S LEADERSHIP.

I have published three books on Adam Smith:
2005: Adam Smith's Lost Legacy, Palgrave-Macmillan
2008: Adam Smith: a moral philosopher and his political economy. Palgrave-Macmillan (Great Thinkers is Economics Series). 2nd Edition, 2010, and in paper back.
2018: An Authentic Account of Adam Smith. Palgrave-Macmillan.
There have also been several academic Journal articles and book chapters in edited academic books, plus, of course this Blog.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

An Authentic Account of Adam Smith Cleared for Publication in 2018

Good News for my article on the “invisible hand”:
Adam Smith and the Invisible Hand: From Metaphor to Myth” (2009) published in Econ journal watch 6(2):pp 239-263.
Up to December 20, 2017, it has been downloaded 500 times by readers HERE
COMMENT
A relatively minor event in the wider order of things but for me a significant target in my much smaller academic world.
I have noticed an increase in references to my arguments against the post-Samuelson myths of Adam Smith’s use of the now ‘infamous’ metaphor that distorts Smith’s literary intentions.
My new text, “An Authentic Account of Adam Smith” Palgrave-Macmillam, 2018, restores Adam Smith’s original arguments to clarify his clear intentions in 1776 (WN Book 4, Chapter IV, p 456).

If you want to read it, follow the link and /or acquire my new book, scheduled for publication in 2018 by Palgrave.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

A TIDE TURNING?

Dr Clark McGinn, Harrow-on-the-Hill, Middx, UK (28 December) in the course of reminding readers of the Financial Times that Adam Smith had been a Professor of Moral Philosophy at Glasgow University, is slightly mistaken in respect of important aspects Adam Smith’s biographical details. HERE: https://www.ft.com/content/e3a2592c-e589-11e7-8b99-0191e45377ec
More to Smith than The Wealth of Nations
Sir, Of course David Wilson and William Dixon (Letters, December 21) are correct in reminding us that economics is an offshoot of moral philosophy. Adam Smith held the chair of Moral Philosophy in Glasgow University as he wrote The Wealth of Nations. …
Dr Clark McGinn
Harrow-on-the-Hill, Middx, UK
COMMENT
Adam Smith resigned his professorship in 1763 order to raise the funds that would enable him to research, and later to write, what became, more than a decade later, The Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations. He was no longer a Professor of Moral Philosophy while writing the Wealth of Nations.
The influence of his earler Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759), which was written during his Professorship at Glasgow, is evident in his later composition  of ideas in Wealth of Nations, written in his mother’s house in Kirkcaldy. In fact, reading both books is a minimal requirement for an understanding of Adam Smith’s contributions to 18th-century scholarship.
Here, I completely agree with Professor Clark McGinn’s assessment of the somewhat neglected role today of Adam Smith’s earlier Moral Sentiments and its affect on Smith’s Wealth of Nations.
There were also other influences from his university teachings equally neglected in modern scholarship. 
I refer to Adam Smith’s Lectures on Jurisprudence, delivered during his entire Professorial tenure at the University of Glasgow. He delivered Jurisprudence up to his last week of teaching in 1763. Moreover, Smith selectively introduced verbatim multi-page-length extracts from his Jurisprudence lectures direct into his Wealth of Nations long after leaving Glasgow. I welcome Dr Clark McGinn’s contribution.
I am encouraged also by the recent writings of Michael Emmett Brady, California State University, who has published his significant contribution in the Social Science Research Network (SSRN). See his paper: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3078415 “Who Taught Paul Samuelson the Myth of the “Invisible Hand” at the University of Chicago? The most likely answer is Jacob Viner or fellow student George Stigler”. 

Taking Dr Clark McGinn’s letter in the Financial Times today with yesterday’s news of Michael Brady’s SSRN paper, are these signs that the tide of misinformation about Adam Smith is turning?