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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

I could have been a stock trader. Part 2 (Adam Smith was right)

I read a lot. The most common genre I choose is Science Fiction. I must admit that I am something of a book harlot. I’ll take a turn with any subject. I have read many economics books, the best is “Wealth of Nations”, by Adam Smith, published 1776. It is such a good book I have read it three times, first in my early twenties, again in my middle 40s, the last reading about a year back. The book runs over 1,200 pages and the language a challenge. It is incredibly boring, the concepts that I find fundamental and amazing are sprinkled among endless pages of observational data. Do not substitute a modern, updated version. I have tried a few and there is a high correlation to the editor’s political views. These are simply not the same book.

Many economic professionals and politicians refer to Adam Smith’s invisible hand, saying the market is controlled by an invisible hand which unerringly guides it to the best answer, self correcting and mystically efficient. It quickly becomes apparent they have not read his work. The precise quote is “led by an invisible hand”, page 574, second paragraph. I could include the entire paragraph showing that the modern spin is far from the original intent (Google adam smith invisible hand). Adam Smith wrote of cause and effect, interpretation of observable data. Modern economist and politicians espousing the invisible hand should title their work “Harry Potter and the magic invisible hand”. Adam Smith did not believe in magic.

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