Sunday, February 06, 2005

Greenspan on Adam Smith--February 6, 2005

Alan Greenspan gave a great tribute to Adam Smith! Fascinating!

FRB: Speech, Greenspan Adam Smith February 6, 2005 Some of the highlights:
"In the broad sweep of history, it is ideas that matter. Indeed, the world is ruled by little else. As John Maynard Keynes famously observed: "Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from intellectual influences, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist....In his Wealth of Nations, Smith reached far beyond the insights of his predecessors to frame a global view of how market economies, just then emerging, worked. In so doing, he supported changes in societal organization that were to measurably enhance world standards of living."
Later Greenspan notes
"For most of recorded history, people appear to have acquiesced in, and in some ways embraced, a society that was static and predictable. A young twelfth-century vassal could look forward to tilling the same plot of his landlord's soil until disease, famine, natural disaster, or violence ended his life....Smith lived at a time when market forces were beginning to erode the rigidities of the remaining feudal and medieval practices and the mercantilism that followed them....For the first time, modern notions of political and economic freedom began to gain traction....gave rise to a vision of a society in which individuals guided by reason were free to choose their destinies unshackled from repressive restrictions and custom.
Adam Smith played a key role in the progression of this economic thought:
"In 1776, Smith produced one of the great achievements in human intellectual history: An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations. Most of Smith's free-market paradigm remains applicable to this day"
Great Stuff! I definitely recommend you read the whole speech!

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