The following is a lightly edited, slightly condensed transcript of the talk “Adam Darwin: Emergent Order in Biology and Economics,” presented by Matt Ridley at the Adam Smith Institute in 2012. I’ve called my lecture “Adam Darwin” to stress how congruent the philosophies of Adam Smith and Charles Darwin are. The common theme, of course, […]
One of the signature features of President Donald Trump’s campaign was his hostility to free trade. Then-candidate Trump repeatedly denigrated various multilateral trade pacts as bad deals for the United States. Pulling out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, appointing opponents of free trade—such as Steve Bannon and Peter Navarro—into key positions, and promises of tariffs that are likely to […]
There’s a reason why, in times of war, countries have blockaded others.
Among economics data watchers, a country’s exports enjoy a hallowed status. The ability of producers in country A to sell goods and services to people in other countries is taken as a sign of A’s economic strength, although the underlying metric for economic strength goes unmentioned. In addition, job counters across the spectrum constantly count […]
“The market is not a place, a thing, a collective entity. The market is a process, actuated by the interplay of the actions of the various individuals cooperating under the division of labor.” – Ludwig von Mises
Free trade doesn’t just make us better off. It makes us better people. Donald Trump claims that raising barriers to trade is one of the things it will take to “Make America Great Again,” but he is wrong. Greatness—both of wealth and of moral character—comes from trade. And we have known this for a very […]
One of the most egregious misunderstandings about trade is that the government of country A should allow its people to trade freely with peoples of other countries only if governments of, and producers in, other countries “play by the rules” – which usually means “plays according to the rules that the rulers and politically powerful […]
Commerce brings out the best in human beings by providing incentives to care about others. Those who can’t rise above focusing on their short-term narrow needs have little ability to meet the needs of others.
Have you ever stopped and looked around the grocery store? There are thousands of products neatly arranged and conveniently located just for you.
If we want the market order to survive, we will have to continue to treat it both in theory and practice as a realm of moral and virtuous behavior.
Suppose that Smith, your neighbor in New Haven or your friend in Fayetteville, produced a lot of auto parts that consumers voluntarily bought at prices that earned for Smith a sizable fortune. Suppose further that Smith prudently saves a large chunk of his fortune, some of which he uses to start a glass-manufacturing plant in […]
A good part of the ethics of enterprise is reflected in the integrity, discipline, and quality of character that must enter into those individuals who choose the role of entrepreneurial leadership.
You earn $1,000 this week. You spend $650 on consumption items (rent, food, gasoline, a new pair of jeans) and save – you admirably prudent person you – $350. You use this $350 to buy three shares of stock in Apple, Inc. (which are priced today at just over $116 per share). The rest of […]
The work you do probably does not produce something you could consume. Even more striking is the fact that almost everything you consume is something you could not possibly produce. Your daily life depends on the cooperation of hundreds of millions of other people.
Here is what you should know about NAFTA, the perennially controversial trade agreement
In this previous post I wrote that “[t]here is yet a deeper economic fallacy that infects Mr. Krugman’s recent defense of mercantilism – a problem that I hope to blog on soon.” What follows is that promised blog post. Mr. Krugman’s most-recent defense of mercantilism boils down to the assertion that the case for free trade […]