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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wealth is the product of labor
I appreciate that for most readers, Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations is going to be a deadly dull read, although I think this is a pity. With a little discipline, I think that the erudite reader will take away many enriching (yes, pun intended) lessons from Smith's ground breaking treatise. For me, as a business professional and business student (I have an MBA), the...
Published on June 23 2004 by J. Carruthers

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Watch Out!
I have no criticism with Adam Smith's "Wealth of Nations." My criticism is with the Great Minds Series edition of the book. The Great Minds Series is an abridged version. Huge chunks have been edited out of the book, yet nowhere do they let you know this before making the purchase. I bought this book specifically because I wanted to cite it, and I can't...
Published on June 19 2002


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Watch Out!, June 19 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Wealth of Nations (Paperback)
I have no criticism with Adam Smith's "Wealth of Nations." My criticism is with the Great Minds Series edition of the book. The Great Minds Series is an abridged version. Huge chunks have been edited out of the book, yet nowhere do they let you know this before making the purchase. I bought this book specifically because I wanted to cite it, and I can't because the parts I wanted to quote have been edited out.
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."
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wealth is the product of labor, June 23 2004
This review is from: The Wealth of Nations (Hardcover)
I appreciate that for most readers, Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations is going to be a deadly dull read, although I think this is a pity. With a little discipline, I think that the erudite reader will take away many enriching (yes, pun intended) lessons from Smith's ground breaking treatise. For me, as a business professional and business student (I have an MBA), the Wealth of Nations was a Damascus Road experience.
I think there are several myths about economics that are exploded by a first hand reading of Wealth of Nations. Many supply side economists eagerly tout Smith's "invisible hand" metaphor in advocating deregulated markets, but in my view, Smith took a balanced and integrated approach in analyzing the supply and demand sides of national economy. In the first chapter Smith notes that national wealth is the production of labor. This has dual implications in that production is the creation of supply, but the labor force consumes that supply by trading the resulting wealth. These are two sides to the same coin, & therefore indivisible. Also in the first chapter, Smith notes that increasingly sophisticated economies will employ a division of labor to increase production efficiency, which is another concept that necessarily integrates supply and demand, production and consumption.
Smith devotes quite a bit of time lamenting governmental intrusion into economics by way of regulation. However, he does not condemn government regulation per se, but make very specific criticisms against those state regulatory polices that tend to create monopolies. None of his comments are strictly political in nature. Smith's analysis is purely based on economics & the efficient allocation of capital. He views the enemy not as the King's ministers, but rather the monopolies that were so prevalent during the 18th century mercantile system.
On a related note, I think it is clear that Smith would be horrified by the military centric nature of many post-industrial economies today. He notes that a standing army is a drain on national wealth. Essentially the state is paying workers not to work, but rather to stand ready to fight. I suspect that Smith would view large state defense budgets as being most closely akin to a transfer payment made by a welfare state. For those who will scream invective at me for saying this, please remember that the largest item on any defense budget by far, is payroll.
Finally, as an amateur historian, I enjoyed the brief glimpse into what life was like in the 18th century Empire from an economist's perspective. Various parts of his book review social welfare systems of his day, as well as international banking, political economy, agrarian systems, and life in general.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still an amazing accomplishment, Jan. 18 2004
By 
Jeremy M. Milstein (Chicago, IL) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Wealth of Nations (Paperback)
I really wonder how many people have ever read this book--especially those who deal with economic issues (say Congress or the President). Of course, some of the ideas have become dated because the world of 2004 isn't the world of 1776. However, what's amazing is what has held. So much of this book is still basic economic theory. Plus, its not as if Smith had predecessors who he could follow. Smith is one of those people who will still be remember in 2500 or 3000 and deservedly so.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Where did that description come from?, Dec 2 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: The Wealth of Nations (Hardcover)
Talk about revisionist history! Adam Smith deeply suspicious of capitalism--a closet socialist? I don't think so!
Smith argues that even the darker impulses of the human mind generate benefit in a free society. If you want to get rich in a free society, the only way to do it is to come up with something incredibly useful to humankind.
Smith wasn't distrustful of capitalism--he was distrustful of statism and merchantalism, of government handouts and bureaucrats who know best. That was the order of the day in Smith's time. The government regulations for the French textile industry between 1666 and 1730 took up 2,000 pages.
*That's* what Smith was distrustful of, not capitalism!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great book of economic development - the first one!, Feb. 24 2003
By 
emanriqu "emanriqu" (AREQUIPA, AREQUIPA Peru) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Wealth of Nations (Paperback)
For a third world citizen, like me, this book seems to be written a couple years ago. Their topics are present in the political agenda of our governments right today, and after all other reviewers have written, better than I would do so, i should add four key points:
- With no proper political institutions there is no possibility of creating wealth (it reminds me sad examples from today...Argentina?). Smith thinks it is very important having economic liberties, besides independent magistrates, and a national state committed to enforce the contracts privates sign up to make transactions when some party doesn't want to comply them.
- Under the right framework of political institutions is posible to have private interests and public interest converging on the same "bargain zone". Under Smith's point of view is the mercantilism, as a policy of state, policy that picks up the winners since the desk of politicians instead of from the shops of every-day industry and parsimony of workers and entrepreuners what creates the conflict (even though he makes some exceptions, like the Navigation Act, but he regards the need of this monopoly of english navy by national security reasons only).
- After the short-run adjustments, the income distribution matters, that are so important for politicians, should be resolved by the market and the entrepreuners whom, by searching opportunities to make more profits, will make converging the prices of land, labour and goods.
- The accumulation of capital is the process that lowers interest rates, expands the supply of loans and suports higher degrees of division of labour in the economy. This process should let people have cheaper goods along the time and improve the wages of workers. The tax system should not stop this process, by "punishing" profits and the letting the remaining sources of rent free (wages, and rent of land).
Under Smith's point of view scarcity and poverty are historical and social problems, and their solutions are in history and in social interaction too.There are not worlds beyond every-day reality, as socialists made us to believe some time ago...just trade and division of labour and accumulation of capital, and so on. Let history and people surprise us. They will make the wealth, not the governments. The Smith system is open to history and change, and learnship, and only requires good foundations to secure an historical outcome of wealth.
The world of today has institutions that were not in XVIIIth century: global financial institutions and spread trade agreements, that create barriers at some places and open gates at anothers. And now we have new constraints (the environment,..) and new key players (global corporations, ..). But this new scene only makes smaller the room of economic policy choices for latin american governments. At the core of the room which is remaining for them, the Smith's suggestions still have urgent and actual importance.
Sad thing to recognize that in XXIst century latin america, we need to read a great book from XVIIIst century to find out solutions.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The Great Minds Series version has parts missing!, Sept. 26 1999
By 
Daniel Krawisz (Austin, Texas) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Wealth of Nations (Paperback)
I was origionally reading the text version of this book on the internet until the printed version came. I was downtroden, sickened, and even frightened to find that the Great Minds Series version of The Wealth of Nations is incomplete, yet gives no indication whatsoever of being so.
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.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Bible of Economics, Aug. 27 2003
By 
N. Tsafos (Washington, DC) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Wealth of Nations (Hardcover)
To be an economist without having read "The Wealth of Nations" is like being a priest without having read the Bible. As is often the case with second hand accounts, textbooks have distorted and watered down Adam Smith. Going back to the original text is both refreshing and enlightening.
The "Wealth of Nations" remains the most truthful defense of the economic science. But remember that Adam Smith also wrote "The Theory of Moral Sentiments"; for Smith, economics was a search to better people's life rather than simply a quest to optimize mathematical functions or estimate variables using econometric models.
To simply associate Smith with expressions such as the "invisible hand," does not do him justice. Take, for example, the opening chapter on the division of labor: first, Smith defends the division of labor as being efficient; then, he defends it as an essential component of the freedom to allocate one's labor to one's talents; finally, he links the division of labor to trade: without the freedom to exchange the fruits of one's labor, the division of labor is meaningless. The point is that Adam Smith defends the rationale for the market, rather than just explain its mechanics.
Anyone studying economics in school would think that economics is all about efficiency; this preoccupation, inevitably, breeds economists who support the market simply because it works. But to read Adam Smith is to enter the realm of an economic science where the ultimate benchmark is not efficiency but human freedom and welfare. That is, probably, what Smith would remark if he were to sit in an economics class today, and why the "Wealth of Nations" is as revolutionary today as it was two centuries ago.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Read the original - get beyond second-hand truisms, July 4 2003
By 
Jonathan W. Robie (Durham, NC USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Wealth of Nations (Paperback)
Some books have entered so deeply into our culture that they affect the way we think whether or not we have read them. The Wealth of Nations is certainly one of these books. And like most such books - the Bible, Shakespeare, the works of Freud or Jung, the Bill of Rights - the Wealth of Nations does not say what you think it does.
The fact is, those who most earnestly revere Adam Smith are not always those who have read his works most carefully. Which is why reading The Wealth of Nations is important for those who think about the role of capitalism and free markets in our nations and in our world.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Classic of Economics, May 17 2003
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This review is from: Wealth of Nations (Paperback)
This book is the seed of modern understandings of economics and therefore the key to unlocking the uncertainties of 18th century economic life to the degree that the world has reached unseen wealth at the present. I think there is a strong connection between the influence of this one book and the relative wealth of today's world 100 years later. Although much of the theories in this book are outdated, especially when it comes to international economics, there is still much in this book to be studied. For that reason, I think it is worth reading by all.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Tao of Economics, May 14 2003
By 
Margaret Magnus (Francestown, NH USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Wealth of Nations (Paperback)
This is one of the truly great books produced by the Western world. Although much has been written on economics since, it considerably broadened my perspective to read it in the original.
I can't help feeling that those who pan Wealth of Nations as an apology for exploitation simply haven't read it. Thatï¿s simply not what the book is about. For if you really do care about the underpriveleged masses -- and it's imminently clear that he really does -- then you better consciously organize your state in such a manner that money will flow naturally where it's most needed.
I'd been told before I read it by several people that AS was, for example, apologizing for the East India Trading Company? Does his apology for EIT include the lengthy chapter which discuss in full detail how and why the East India Trading Company was responsible for an wide array of abuses in the Far East, and why no similar company would be legal if a society were fully moral and knew its own best interest?
Nor is it a blind apology for laissez faire economics, though it does recommend non-intervention by the government insofar as that is possible. Still he fully recognizes the need for social services, rightly understood and rightly executed.
In fact, I can't see how anyone who reads it could view it as an apology at all -- it's simply a statement of fact. Adam Smith is not the one carrying an ideology around on his shoulder. You may not like it that the world works this way -- that's another matter. But that IS the way it works... you are made to see that for yourself. It is not imposed on you as dogma.
And after reading AS, I'm left feeling very happy that that's the way the world works.
I think the most fundamental idea I am left with after reading all those pages, is that wealth is a verb, not a noun. Land and labor (i.e. food and farming) are the bottom line of economics. Treat your farmers well. Unjust practices in trading will ultimately backfire.
The dynamo which runs the machine that creates wealth lies within each individual - it is the individualï¿s will to better his or her condition. To the degree that this aspect of human nature is given the power to express itself , the nation will be vitalized internally.
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An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations: A Selected Edition
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