RUSS ROBERTS

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Financial Times Review

11.27.14

The Financial Times has a nice review of my Adam Smith book. Here’s how it opens:

As any Financial Times reader can tell you, Adam Smith was the original Gordon Gekko, insisting greed is good – and championed by UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, a devotee of his Wealth of Nations.

However, it turns out that this view is a misconception – one that Russ Roberts seeks to redress in How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life by showing how the grandfather of the dismal science can make you a better, happier and more fulfilled person.

Roberts, a Stanford economist, does so by whisking the reader through Smith’s “hidden gem”, The Theory of Moral Sentiments. This treatise was the work for which Smith cared most. Beautifully written, it was first published in 1759 but he revised it until just before his death in 1790.

The Theory of Moral Sentiments puts Smith’s invisible candlestick-makers and unbenevolent bakers aside and instead shows him pioneering what is now called behavioural economics – or, more prosaically, the study of what it means to be human. As Roberts skilfully shows through the words of Smith: “economics is about something more important than money”.

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