The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith

The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith – An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations – was on my to-read list for a long time and now, finally, I got to read the first one, which is made up of 3 books out of a total of five.

These were lectures presented at Glasgow. It was published in 1776, but it is still relevant today. The style of writing is not exactly modern, as one can assume, but it isn’t very difficult to read either. Smith is considered the father of capitalism, making the case for a free market.
He talks about the gold standard, analyses different economic aspects in history, starting from the 13th century. There are ideas about wages, profit, rent, stocks, but also ethics. I will share a few quotes from the book.

The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith

‘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. We address ourselves, not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our own necessities but of their advantages.’

‘The real price of everything, what everything really costs to the man who wants to acquire it, is the toil and trouble of acquiring it.’

‘Many workmen could not subsist a week, few could subsist a month, and scarce any a year without employment.’

‘The real and effectual discipline which is exercised over a workman is not that of his corporation [as in guilds or regulatory bodies], but that of his customers. It is the fear of losing their employment which restrains his frauds and corrects his negligence.’

‘It is better, says the proverb, to play for nothing than to work for nothing.’

‘The man who borrows in order to spend will soon be ruined, and he who lends to him will generally have occasion to repent of his folly.’

The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith (I have not read yet Book 4 and 5, which are contained in a different volume. I might read them cover to cover or, at least, skim-read them)
Book 1. Of the causes of improvement in the productive powers of labour, and of the order according to which its produce is naturally distributed among the different ranks of the people
Book 2. Of the nature, accumulation, and employment of stock
Book 3. Of the different progress of opulence in different nations
Book 4. Of systems of political economy
Book 5. Of the revenue of the sovereign or commonwealth

The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith

Details about the picture: –
My rating: 5/5 Stars
Would I recommend it: yes
Published by: Penguin Classics
Year it was published: 1999 (first published 1776)
Format: Paperback
Genre(s): Economics
Pages: 570

About the author: Although the exact date of Smith’s birth is unknown, his baptism was recorded on 16 June 1723 at Kirkcaldy.
A Scottish moral philosopher and a pioneer of political economy. One of the key figures of the Scottish Enlightenment, Smith is the author of The Theory of Moral Sentiments and An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations. The latter, usually abbreviated as The Wealth of Nations, is considered his magnum opus and the first modern work of economics. Adam Smith is widely cited as the father of modern economics.
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2 thoughts on “The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith”

  • This is not something I would consider pleasure reading at all, since economics is not a topic I enjoy, but I enjoyed the quotes you shared. I’m familiar with the book and the author and recall reading about him and Laissez-faire Economics in relation to contemporary Libertarianism.
    Kelly recently posted…Things I Ate As A KidMy Profile

    • The book is not economics in a modern sense, where everything is put in graphs and lists of prices and all sort of acronyms, but an interpretation of economics. So, from this point of view is much more readable and suitable for a wider public. But, at 500+ pages, is not exactly a light read either.
      I’ve enjoyed it because I like reading this kind of books, like I read On the Origin of Species, books that everyone knows about, but people seldom read. They are primary sources, so I can use quotes in my essays too.

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