Economic legacy

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Adam Smith’s legacy as represented by mainstream mathematically inclined economists and their fantasies of “rational expectations theory” has very little to do with anything written by him.

Practically everything claimed about Adam Smith is mythical, perversely misunderstood, or asserted merely to support modern ideologies for laissez-faire versus state regulations and unfunded spending.

Smith was not the first nor the only 18th-century political economist. He wrote just before what we call the Industrial Revolution.

His focus was on history, not the future (he did not make predictions; he tried to understand the past as a guide to the present).

Ellis Thorpe (Letters, 21 July) asks if universities have “shed economic history and the history of economic thought” and the answer is “Yes”, but there are happy signs of a revival of student interest in such courses at Harvard, Glasgow and Manchester.

Restoration of Panmure House, Smith’s last home, off the Royal Mile may boost that revival because economists certainly ought to examine the recent crises in US and EU economies to avoid repeating them.

(Prof) Gavin Kennedy

Suffolk Road

Edinburgh

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