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The Economics Book by

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RG

IN CONTEXT

FOCUS

Markets and firms

KEY THINKER

Adam Smith (1723–90)

BEFORE

1714 Dutch writer Bernard Mandeville illustrates the unintended consequences that can arise from self-interest.

1755–56 Irish banker Richard Cantillon describes a version of “spontaneous order.”

AFTER

1874 Léon Walras shows how supply and demand lead to a general equilibrium.

1945 Austrian economist Friedrich Hayek argues that market economies produce an efficient order.

1950s Kenneth Arrow and Gérard Debreu identify conditions under which free markets lead to socially optimal outcomes.

According to the Scottish thinker Adam Smith, the West had embarked on a great revolution before ...

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