Chapter 1

Adam Smith – the ‘founding father’ of economics

‘It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.’

Adam Smith, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, Book 1, ch. 2

Every Briton should know who Adam Smith is – or least what he looks like. This is not because he is a celebrity or a national treasure but because since 2007 his face has adorned the £20 banknote. Even without that aide memoire many people in the UK and elsewhere in the English-speaking world have probably heard others mention this long-dead economist whose name and ideas still feature in news reports and politicians’ speeches more than 200 years after ...

Get The Great Economists now with the O’Reilly learning platform.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from nearly 200 publishers.