Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Adam Smith: Father of Economics (Jesse Norman)

In Adam Smith: Father of Economics, author Jesse Norman looks at an individual who is often considered one of the fathers of modern economic thought. Smith’s life, theories, and the application of his beliefs to the modern challenges that we face are the subject of Norman’s book, with the author taking the protagonist position that Smith’s views are often used in error and not thoroughly appreciated by his supporters, detractors, and by many in the economic field.
Adam Smith is divided into three parts. Smith’s life and energies devoted to his signature works are the subjects of the first part, with the second devoted to the content that makes up the signature works and theories that Smith espoused. Last, Norman tackles Smith’s impact on capitalism and how his belief system is critical in shaping the challenges that modern capitalism faces today. Norman advocates the need for capitalist reform through effective regulations and smarter government. He often cites that supporters and detractors of Smith’s views do not fully understand and appreciate Smith’s beliefs that economies work best when there is balance and equilibrium in government and business. The author argues that Smith believes that the best interests of the public can come apart “when markets cease to function well”, citing 2008’s financial crisis and the increase in Western financial  inequality as symptoms of that.

Norman pushes for a renewed introspection into Smith’s words and beliefs and argues that society must rise to the challenges that it faces, arguing for respectful debate in that process. Adam Smith is a respectful, decent look at a man who has helped shape modern economics and modern capitalism. If past is prologue, it may pay heed to turn our views back a bit and look at just what Smith believed in as economic policy and philosophy continues to evolve. Norman makes that his very valid central point in this effective book.