Wealth of Nations in PDF for free

An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith

Everyone talks about Adam Smith but how many people actually have read him? His book can change your life the way you understand politics and economics. People say OK free trade and the invisible hand, however, there is a lot more.
Do not read what other people say about him, read his actual words.

You can download it here -> Wealth of Nations

My gift to you is a complete unabridged version e-book. This is a free download of the Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith in PDF. It is in a clear and easy to read the book. I created a beautiful professionally designed book for any type of e-book reader or simply on your computer.

Once you read Adam Smith your view of the world, politics, and economics will change. You will see why the Wealth of Nations was a banned book in many Western and Eastern countries. It is radical thinking, even today.

This is a free download of Adam Smith’s book in Adobe PDF, which can be read on every type of mobile device. I was going to publish it in hard copy but it’s too big of a book. It is better you have a PDF version and if you get bored skim it. I made it in a very easy on the eyes format.

Why read the Wealth of Nations?

  • Smith was a radical.
  • Adam Smith clearly explains why countries are rich and poor.
  • The Wealth of Nations explains why some people are wealthy and others are not.
  • It will answer your questions about outsourcing, manufacturing going overseas and China.
  • Adam Smith will explain an individual’s behavior with greater clarity than any psychologist.
  • It is an interesting book.
  • It will put you at a higher level than many experts on the economy who have not read Wealth of Nations.
  • You will have a clear rebuttal to any liberal.
  • Do you think the current President has read Wealth of Nations?

The book was published the same year as America declared independence from England, 1776. Some people have used it as the basis of economic theory, while others use it as the book that explains the world of trade and political economy. For me, I have used it as a model for my own personal financial success.

The Smith five books of Political Economy are:

  • The causes of improvement
  • Nature, accumulation, and employment of stock
  • The different progress of opulence in different nations
  • System of political economy.
  • The revenue of sovereign or commonwealth
Wealth of Nations
Original book cover of Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith

Let me know what you think of Adam Smith’s book. I think it can be applied to everything from free trade vs. protectionism to low or high taxes, government spending, health care, government debt, banking and a lot more. If you have an interest in Hume, the enlightenment it will be of interest. If you have an interest in the Road to Serfdom by Hayek, it will be of interest to you. If you want to know how to solve the economic crisis read Adam Smith. I think the most important point in Adam Smith’s book is how to help the poor. How to help the working classes and the average man. Forget pop culture and mass-marketed books, read this classic.  If you read Smith’s book you will be a richer person in more ways than one.

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85 responses to “Wealth of Nations in PDF for free”


    Can you please send a free copy of the e-book of Adam Smith’s wealth of a nation to my mail box.
    Gabriel Ehiremen.

    1. Mark Biernat

      You can download it directly right from this post did you try?

    2. James White

      Are you from the mont pillar society or something? Wealth of nations is a good read, but hardly a description of the real economy. It might be tough to claim micro/macro economics hasn’t failed in many ways. Neoclassical economics is more absurd in its assumptions than adam smith. Obviously neoclassical would best describe the world of adam smith in modeling. Make some serious economic predictions with any model about the future. Like say hayek or mises or adam smith in the real world . Always read how economics can explain everything(except any reasonable metric of conditions that predict objective reality like science)

      go look up how to prove a theory in science , and pretend you can do that with every modeled theory of economics. Or they aren’t theories, just hypothesis…sorry it’s just political economy pretending to be the science of economics. The science of failure to predict objective or observable reality every time is not scientific rigor. just pretentious social sciences which benefit from a lack of scientific rigor. How would anyone make money fast enough without some risk??? Even models which are successful for investments exchanges/secs/money markets get it wrong and require something new. The perfect model in one cycle fails at every turn the next.

      The vienna school and mont pillar neo liberal movement is quiet extraordinary in its achievements. Hayek’s dream of a hapsburg empire where political theater distracts nations globally. While economic government by extra judicial or judicial institutions keep democracy in check. Comparing them to adam smith is hilarious. The Chicago School of economics is practically heaven compared to mont pillar affiliated economics. Dystopian for most of humanity if liberty is what matters, or democracy… hayek or mises might be the most successful visionaries of institutions as mechanism to control national governments.

      poetic if you agree one should float freely like a leaf on the gusting demands of wealth and power.

  2. Andrew Molobetsi

    Thanks for providing this valuable resource for free. I will definitely download and read the book. Should be an eye opening read for most financial advisers like me out there, familywealthfinance.com

    1. Mark Biernat

      Adam Smith was good man and wrote Wealth of Nations as he sincerely want to help people in the world. That being said, besides the verbose language, I think if people want to know about how the world works in terms on economics and money, especially for themselves this book is one of the best.

      1. Domenic

        The Ludwig von Mises institute has literally hundreds of free market volumes available online, in their literature section in either PDF or e-book format, for free They accept donations but everything is available for free.

        You can read anything from Von Mises, Rothbard, Hayek, Freddie Bastiat, Ron Paul, Bawerk, Henry Hazlit. I personally have learned more from their web page these last couple years than 6 years of University.

      2. Vuki

        No, Adam Smith’s book “Wealth of Nations” is fiction. To understand this fiction you need to read Marx’s Das Kapital that explains how capitalism leads to greed and inequality. Inherent to the idea of competition is greed, war, and exploitation which causes instability and injustice in society. How far do you need to look to see this –Washington, London Paris

        We know the “trickle effect” of Adam’s Capitalism works , like the “horse and the sparrow” . The horse gets all the oats by manipulating the market, government and the propaganda mechanism and the sparrow gets what is not digested in the horse pucks on the roadway. If you don’t understand this you don’t know the meaning of gleaning.

        1. Mark Biernat

          I respectfully disagree. Capitalism is not about greed, rather it is enlightened self-interest. Humans are motivated by economic incentives. However, if you know Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, it is not the only motivation for humans. When you make a decision based on self-interest you make it with reference to others, unless someone is pathological.
          Similarly, when making choices in the market people do not just choose the dollar, they chose lifestyle and interests that align with their own self-actualization. This includes references to others or even helping others. Although economic incentives are a motive humans are more balanced psychologically and temper a singular motive with the whole.
          Therefore, your critique of capitalism is too simplistic based on a model of human conflict, however, most humans I know working in jobs are there to either fulfill their career goals or provide for their families. Entrepreneurs have an economic incentive but it also is about self-actualization, that is why you have some many idealists that have made money that give away their wealth or channel it to positive endeavors.

    2. barm

      Any other academic books in development field available online like that of Adam Smith?

      1. Mark Biernat

        One of these days I will put some more economic classics online. I would love to put some lesser accessible books like Knut Wicksell’s Interest rate theory, however some translation would be required.

  3. Katya

    I am reading your PDF Wealth of Nations, nice design and table of contents, good fonts. Thank you for creating this. I was wondering if you could also make a free e-book for The Theory of Moral Sentiments, his other book?

    1. Mark Biernat

      I have been working on one of my capitalist ventures but that is on my list.

  4. zolani ntlokwana

    Can Wealth of Nation apply to the African countries, based to their ability, capacity ,lack of technology, but please e-mail, PDF of this book, I want to understand about invisible hand (Adam Smith the Scottish Economist)

    1. Mark Biernat

      Yes Adam Smith’s ideas are universal and can be applied to all. The ideas are very simple, that is when a person realizes that the responsibility to get rich is on them, then society as a whole will benefit. In fact, an individual’s quest for wealth is noble and adds to society, as long as it is ethical.
      Look at the Amish, they are America’s most successful business group of people and they use very little technology. It is not about technology. About 90% of their businesses succeed. The Amish are rich without technology. African people could also think along the lines of the Economist E. F. Schumacher, who wrote “Small is Beautiful” It is not as radical or powerful as Adam Smith but economist E. F. Schumacher believed that you do not have to work for a multi national company to get rich.
      Look the world changes so fast and the opportunities here in this world are available to many. I know that of course some people in Africa have a very hard situation, and that is an understatement. But if you have access to the Internet and speak English I think the world is your market, it is just a matter of creating something of value that people will demand. The advantage of Africa is it is so low cost. If you have 10,000 dollars a year you can live well.
      You can download Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations directly from this page it is near the top of the post.

      1. Bulasio

        Thank you Mark Biernat for putting up this book on the web for free download. I hope as many Africans (especially, the African economic refugees in all corners of the globe) download it for dissemination to as may people as possible-with all the minerals and the intelligent young populations-the African has to wake up.

        Once again thank you.


      2. Bernard

        I’d like to thank you Mr. Mark for your helpful post. So how much can this be helpful to a student of University level (year 3) Faculty of Education, Department of Economics and Management, Option of Economics?

      3. Youssef Laaguid

        Hello Biernat,

        Thank you very much for your comment.

        I’m from Morocco, our monarch and government since independence are slaving people, you will know that Morocco is free economy country but everything is manipulated by the king (Mohamed 6).

        Morocco monarch control banks, central banks, valuable natural mines: phosphate (75% of world reserve) & uranium, gold (5 ton per year), silver, cobalt (22000 ton per year), electric etc.

        Everything is controlled.

        This book really will help me to understand economy and politics

        1. Mark Biernat

          Often times countries that are wealthy with resources like Congo or Vensuala or Morocco are relatively poor because governments do not understand that if you maximize personal liberties, people will act for the better of society, this is the unintended consequences or the free market.

          1. Youssef Laaguid

            Indeed, Mark.

          2. Vuki

            These countries are poor because of Capitalism. These countries are exploited by the corporate imperialists like the USA , UK and others. The countries that are on top of the liveability index are all socialist or have a mixed economy .

          3. Mark Biernat

            Capitalism makes people rich, period. Think of the advantages of the market and allocative efficiency. How can you compare capitalism vs its alternatives, with the exception of a mixed economy which we really live in? Free markets allow people to actualize their potential. What is the statistical data or research or even examples where you see communist or social countries doing better than free countries? Please look at heritage.org/index/ranking
            Adam Smith understood that given a just law, people acting on their own enlighted self-interest resulted in positive unintended consequences for society as a whole.

  5. Charlie Tarango

    Thanks for your Time and Effort in doing this for others without receiving anything in return. Just a little more of that from everyone, and this World would be a much better place.

    Happy Holidays and Best Wishes for the New Year.

    1. Mark Biernat

      Thank you for your kind comment on my Wealth of Nations book.

  6. Kenneth

    I am so grateful, my brother recommended the book and am so happy to have a copy of it.

    1. Mark Biernat

      If you can get past the slightly verbose language, I think all the essentials of understanding the world and modern economics as well as how to make money are contained in that book.

  7. Leo Lameda

    Hi, your blog is the first link to appear in “Adam Smith pdf book”, way to go! I am what you might define as a “liberal” in your country, I consider myself more a libertarian.
    The reasons I am downloading the book are quite alike the ones you present: all I know about Smith is the “invisible hand” theory and that he stated the basis for the social economic darwinism, which I think is a horrible way to justify huge social gaps.

    Mr. Smith has (whether we like it or not) such influence in World economics nowadays that is necessary to read his work to understand what is going with the economy. (wehether we like it or not, once again)

    I would like to post my questions and observations somewhere where we can put together the image we see from the other perspective, could it be here? not? my blog? a forum? Ideas?

    Anyway, thanks for sharing, for your time putting it together and for keeping people -that might or might not believe in capitalism- informed from the actual source.
    I hope we can engage in a healthy discussion about Mr. Smith theories.

    Greetings from Venezuela.

    1. Mark Biernat

      Leo you are more than welcome to post here. However, if you want to do a guest post I would also consider it. I am open to hearing and understanding the other side and other interpretations.

      I am also a libertarian leaning. However, I do not see Adam Smith as social economic Darwinism at all, that is a loaded term.
      Adam Smith was a moral philosopher and wrote the book in part as a help to humanity. He believed in the enlightenment and the ideal of that time. Basically all humans are equal and it is circumstance of being raised that is the creates the biggest differences in opportunity. I believe this also.
      The way to give all a better chance is to allow people to express their own given talents and skills freely. When we are all doing our thing in life, society as a whole gets richer. Society as a whole benefits in ways that can not be seen or engeneered by government.
      This is a central point of the enlightenment. When you give people the chance by maximizing their individual liberties society as in aggregate benefits.

    2. Scott Preston

      Check out Noam Chomsky’s “Requiem For The American Dream.” He was not anything like a social Darwinist and only a misinformation campaign by the elite 1% could make anyone think he would have leaned in that direction.

  8. Chris Holte

    While Adam Smith’s evocation of the “invisible hand” is true about real open and free markets, as it is for any well constituted system, it does not contradict John Locke’s note that tyranny is “…the exercise of power beyond right, which nobody can have a right to; and this is making use of the power any one has in his hands, not for the good of those who are under it, but for his own private, separate advantage.”

    Markets are most free when they are equal, transparent, and well policed — and those playing in them do not have power over them collectively. Individual trades and dealings are not subject to this stricture. Adams also talked incessantly about the need for government policies to enable markets, and the power of government policies to degrade the power of labour, combine the powers of “stock”, and how those powers set whole countries on a downward spiral if they prevent the allocation of a living wages to those who labour for that business. “But it would be otherwise in a country where the funds destined for the maintenance of labour were sensibly decaying…” and he his discussion of how the pay of the labour feeds back into the profits of enterprises and the wealth of businessmen ought to be a warning to the USA in this time of “reverse mercantilism” where we have one way “free markets” where our trade partners practice mercantilism and we practice a kind of reverse mercantilism reminescent of the policies pursued by China and Bengal that Smith refers to. They learned from wealth of nations. Businessmen should stick to business and be forced to share the stage with other citizens when it comes to public trust.

    1. Mark Biernat

      My reading of Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations is free markets work better than mercantilism or anything controlled by government. However, you are right that Smith never said chaos or anarchy.
      Smith talked about enlightened self-interest. Governments which provided a basic structure for markets to operated freely and openly both on an individual level and a global international trade level.
      The key point is freely. Let the markets work. Let the aggregate wisdom of people, unforseen by policy makers and government guide the economy.
      China’s mercantilist world is very unjust to the people who live and work there. Some people are crazy rich while others are just above slaves. From the outside this might look good, but unless you are one of the elect, I would prefer Hong Kong over China to work.
      That is Adam Smith.

      1. Chris Holte

        Mark, Adam Smith’s vision was of the individual freedom of businessmen to do deals with each other, and how their self interest could produce more general good than any pretense of doing it for the general Good. But his text was an attack on the tyranny of combinations, monopolies, corporations and the resulting bad governance of labor and trade. The Chinese are practicing mercantilism. It is we who are practicing reverse mercantilism. They probably have read Adam Smith and seen the implication of his discussions of the Chinese policies of his day. His comments on labor policy are as applicable now as they were in his own day. The issue is balancing private interest and the power of “masters” against the need of everybody else to also have a stake in the economy. The Chinese have not totally learned this, but they are practicing the narrative of individual freedom that is at the core of Adam Smith’s invisible hand. What is blocking progress is that we get baited with individual freedom and then beaten up with corporate tyranny; whether the corporations are socialist, centralized or chaotic plutocracies, their power to set policy for “private, separate, advantage” and run outrageous scams degrades the entire system.

        1. Mark Biernat

          Adam Smith and free trade is often misunderstood. Lets start with your last statement. “We get baited with individual freedom and then beaten up with corporate tyranny” this is quotable and evokes an emoutional populous roar. However, corporate tyranny is questionable. I am no fan of a large bureaucratic corporations that throws their weight around politically and gets the US involved in a game of international politics for business interests. Further, I am not a fan of working your life away for the corporation, unless you really believe in the idea behind the corporation. However, in a free market the work can choose to leave a corporation and in theory a corporation’s power will be limited by the market as people try to build a better mouse trap and no one stays on top forever.
          The problem is with capitalism is we have not really tried it yet. – Ron Paul
          It is true. Government plays a game of corporate favoritism with bailouts and lobbies. My reading of Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations is bailouts and lobbies is something that Adam Smith would have opposed. Why? Smith was about protecting individual right not government being an economic nanny. And that is what government is, an economic nanny.

          China, I would be careful is looking to China for any type of economic idea. Why? I remember in the 1980s everyone looked to Japan and wanted to idealism their system of government and economic relations and the way they did business. I remember even starting to study Japanese. My professors at the University marveled at Japan’s model in business. However, as we see for the last 25 years they have economic trouble. So it is with China, some get rich and the rest get rich slower. I would still rather be American than Chinese economically. America life is easy peasy, China not so.
          Free trade seems like a bad idea but the English abandon mercantilism and so did Europe via the EU and do did the USA and look how which we are, and yes we are extremely rich in the USA.
          Think of it this way. What is New York and New Jersey decided to put tariffs up for trade, commerce and restrict movement of labor and capital between their two states. Lets say one states manufactured widgets and the other wanted to so they simply restricted imports across state lines, then the whole USA did this and then counties and towns did the say. Each village would growth their own food and make their own things. Granted we would have full employment (questionable) but for silly reasons, that is the economy would be back in the middle ages.
          If you are against free trade consider this USA state model or township model of towns pursing mercantilism. It is a silly theory and would leave everyone worse off. Even if one town became an economic hamlet and was mercantilist, they would not grow rich.
          China is getting rich as they are building mouse traps cheaper because of labor. The USA should not focus on that as they are in a different stage of economic development, we need to focus on building a higher level product in manufacturing or offer some higher level economic product with our intellect.
          Just like agriculture became more specialised and efficient so manufacturing is. This is what people do not realise and the economy has grown away from a dependence on the primary sector. Economics is something that is not top down but more a mystery that each generation does not grasp, until their time is over. Our economy needs innovation and creativity and to move forward to compete not based on an industrial manufacturing model of China.
          We are doing great research in genetics and physics and high level economic activity, that is why Americas are so rich. We do not want to go back making plastic toys do we? And if we did, be warned China is starting to get into high level high-tech things and we will be focus on manufacturing ideas from the 1950s model of economics.
          Adam Smith in my mind was a genius that he could see that if you focus on protecting the individual and property rights then society as a whole will be better off in ways no one can see or imagine. This was the enlightenment.

      2. ladygeek

        I do not agree with your premise that it explains liberal thought. Economics and politics are separate. They are intertwined though. I learned my economics at the University of MN.

        1. Mark Biernat

          The difference is positive and normative analysis. Positive analysis is what is, what is factual and researched. Normative is ‘what ought to be’ and this includes value judgment. Economics is a social science and searches for micro-foundations based on research. However, the normative analysis is where people extrapolate theory into political ideas.

        2. Malcolm O’Connor

          I find it strange that you see politics and economics as being different. It is virtually impossible to be involved with one without being involved with the other. Almost every area of human activity involves politics at some point, with economics being one of the prime drivers -along with religion and class- for differences in political beliefs/parties.

          Economics defines who gets what in the World and politicians use that as the basis for their rule. The sad thing is that the important politicians, like the Chancellor of the Exchequer (UK) don’t see that the “have nots” are a part of the economy as much as those who feed off them.

          How do you make a difference between Politics and Economics in something like Brexit? Is it purely one or the other? Or is there some ulterior motive to use politics to the economic ends of the right wingers? the “Brexit Minister” is on record as saying that it is too hard to fire people in the UK, so HIS plan (not that he seems to have any beyond no deal) no doubt means using Brexit to destroy our rights as workers and subjects.

          I never studied Economics at University. I studied “Economic and Social History” which is what happens when economists get it horribly wrong. The only society I can think of worse than the one in which we live, designed largely by economists would be one designed by engineers and scientists.

          1. Mark Biernat

            There is positive and normative economics as well as Micro and Macroeconomics. When economists in academia are writing scholarly research papers, it is mostly positive, based on facts and data with conclusions drawn from that. When people are armchair philosophers it is normative.
            At the core, economics is positive and has a micro foundation. Macro, are broader sweeps of the brush and are connected to policy. I would have to back peddle a bit and say, yes economics is can be connected to politics in if you take it in the form of policy analysis. However, the core of economic academic research needs to be based on objective data as even though it is a social science it is still a science. From the evidence, policymakers can draw their own conclusions.
            However, what I find annoying, for lack of a better word is when people turn objective thinking into a political ideology and broadcast messages of this ideology to justify a political action for a society without carefully considering the data and effect for the whole in the short and long run. Economist becomes puppets of policy makers rather than objective investigators of the truth.

      3. Vuki

        China prior to 1949 was a piggery of the world. Workers slept in factories in their own excrements, there were over a 100 million drug addicts and a subsistence economy where the upper classes dominated and exploited the masses. Capitalism is not based on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs safety, love and belonging, esteem and self-actualization. Competition never is because in Capitalism there are winners and losers and free will does not guide our actions but nurture. Everything we do as humans is determined by our economic needs.

        1. Mark Biernat

          China did not have capitalism before 1949. It was ruled by warlords, dynasties, and tribes, as well as de facto foreign powers who practiced mercantilism. It did not have the rule of law and educational opportunities Adam Smith envisioned. It was an economically primitive feudal waring society. You can not compare the living standard of Formosa to mainland China or Hong Kong. China recently transformed into wealth from free markets. Free markets are not a religion and do not answer the deep meaning of life questions, but they tend to raise the standard of living of counties that have them within the context of a just system of rule.
          You need to read the Wealth of Nations in the context of Adam Smith’s Theory of Moral Sentiments, and understand what he was saying, he was factually not talking about exploitation, but government should set up laws for a peaceful actualization of people’s talents in the marketplace.

  9. oliver westcott

    Thank you very much for putting Adam Smith online. I have been looking for the 5th edition. Can you confirm which edition this version is? Thanks.

    1. Mark Biernat

      I do not have that information. During Adam Smith’s life was published five editions of The Wealth of Nations on March 9th, 1776, the subsequently in 1778, 1784, 1786, and 1789, then after many other editions were published.
      I believe the second edition to be the most radical in changes from the first, while the fourth and fifth editions were more small corrections.
      I think the fifth edition Smith might even mention this. Let me know what you find out.

  10. jivan Biradar

    Thanks for your time and effort in doing this for others without receiving anything in return.
    Mark where I can get others classical economist books?

    1. Mark Biernat

      You are welcome. If you are looking for unformatted books Gutenberg project or the library has a lot online for download. If you have a specific request I can create a new one. I do recommend anything by Knut Wicksell on money and interest rate theory. Although not a classical economist like Adam Smith, Wicksell was someone who understood the importance of the monetary sector and its effect on the real sector. Why the observed bank rate of interest does not always stimulate the economy like social engineers hope.

  11. lo

    How you answer the question: To what extent was Smith a radical? In what category would you say: political, social, intellectual,etc?

    1. Mark Biernat

      The answer is simple. Although A. Smith was not the first person in the universe to think of the idea that markets left alone work for the individual and a nation, he certainly gave robustness to the theory. While countries like Spain and France and even today believe that the way to riches for an economy is to support the national industry with mercantilist policies, Smith had another idea.
      The idea is basically that humans are good. When left to act on their own enlightened self interest they will bring society as a whole to a higher level then any king or economist could ever do.
      That is radical. The peasant knows more than the economist or the king about economics.
      The farmer knows what it takes to feed his family, bring the goods to market and sell it better than any advisers for the king or the president.

  12. Thank you very much for making the complete and unabridged version of this book available. I had the hardest time deciding which version of the Wealth of Nation to purchase on Amazon and Half.com that the one I picked turned out to be gutted and abridged!
    I came across “The Wealth of Nation” after reading Warren Buffett’s biography “The Snowball”. If this is considered a top book for Warren, it must be good for a lot of people who are interested in the economy.
    I will start reading this book in the next week or so and leave a comment as I journey through this classic.

    Again, thank you so much for sharing this very valuable book.

  13. Sefakor Fummey

    My lecturer and mentor recommended this book as a must read, after 5 years of graduation, I finally got a copy to read. Economics is indeed incomplete without issues put forth in this book. How a nation or an individual for that matter achieves wealth and economic prosperity in the world.

  14. Malcolm O’Connor

    This wonderful and inspiring book should be required reading for all politicians. Despite it’s age, it remains not only possibly the greatest treatise on economics, but a monument to Smith’s willingness to admit the error of his own earlier thinking and politicians determination to adhere to the principles that Smith himself recognized were inherently flawed.

  15. Andrew McNeil

    Thank you for making available the free download of “The Wealth of Nations”.
    I’m interested in the quote “all money is a matter of belief”, that I keep seeing attributed to Adam Smith. I’ve searched for it in your pdf download, but I can’t find it.
    Can you give me the reference (book, chapter, paragraph) for where it comes from?
    best wishes,
    Andrew McNeil

    1. Mark Biernat

      I am not aware that Adam Smith said that. Adam Smith on money discusses how it is a cipher and rather not something of real value but a medium of exchange that people agree on. That perhaps could be interpreted all money is belief. Money in itself does not have any intrinsic value unless you have a psychological distortion. It is only the belief that we can do something with money that makes it desirable.
      Let me know what you think that quote means and I can give you my perspective.

      1. Andrew McNeil

        Hello Mark,
        Thanks for your reply. I’ve done a search (CTL+F) through “Wealth of nations” and it’s come up blank. Other quotes come up, so I conclude that Smith never actually said “All money is belief”. All of the quotation web-sites attribute it to him, maybe they don’t check.
        It looks like Smith drew heavily on the writings of Persian scholars around 1100-1200 (David Graeber, “Debt”, p.279). One of them, al-Ghazali, said some interesting things about money (Graeber, and Ghazanfar and Islahi, “Economic Thought of al-Ghazali”, Scientific Publishing Centre, King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, 1997). I do agree with your views on money – I like your phrase “psychological distortion”.
        But whereas the Islamic scholars emphasised the cooperative side of specialisation and trade, Smith focussed on the competitive side, so he advises that we address, not the humanity of others, but their “self-love” – a pity. I wonder if his slant on things sent Western economics on a particular course.

  16. isaac avoro

    The wealth of nation is the best of the economic books, both modern writers and journalists who believe themselves to be economists can not compare to this classic.

  17. Alan Etherton

    Good work. Well done. Thank you for the effort, and the good intent. From an appreciative MBA student.

  18. Nunda

    I’m a liberal, and I love Adam Smith. I feel he is the most intelligent philosopher I have ever read. He is downright prophetic. I’m thankful you put this up as I no longer need to loan out my copy of the book, and don’t have to worry about buying a new copy every so often.

    My only issue is where you say “You will have a clear rebuttal to any liberal”. Because It implies that all conservatives are right, and all liberals are wrong. I use Adam Smith’s theories to rebut dumb conservatives who think big business can never lead us astray, as you probably use it to rebut dumb liberals who think that big government can never lead us astray. In reality Adam Smith provides rebuttals against dumb people.

    The Wealth of Nations is consistent with, and informs my very liberal views. and I encourage my liberal friends to read it. I worry that your statement on rebutting liberals will give liberals the erroneous impression that this book is conservative garbage and they will not read the book. Liberals should read this book. everyone should read this book.

    I would change that line to “You will have a clear rebuttal to that guy who thinks he knows everything, but is just so wrong.or you’ll find out you’re that guy. either way you need to read this book”.

    1. Mark Biernat

      I love Adam Smith’s ideas. Both his book The wealth of Nations and the Theory of Moral Sentiments have insights for economics and as well as life and how to live a good life personally. Therefore, I stand corrected. His books are not to rebut liberals. In fact, it could be argued he was liberal by todays standards on various issues, as he was a advocate of education programs for example. Some of the bread and butter conservative views I disagree with. Further, from another perspective the views of the liberal and conservatives today are not as far apart if you put them next to ideologies of the past.

      Liberals are not unintelligent at all, nor are conservatives. There are brilliant minds from both side. I teach college economics and I can see both view points, and it is my job in the class to respect both views and teach the raw theory.

      There is positive economics and normative economics. Positive economics is the study of ‘what is’ and can be based on empirical data for example. Normative is ‘what out to be’. Since economics is a social science there is a lot of room for both the liberals and conservatives enjoy Adam Smith because the truth is, although he a minimalist when it came to intervention in the market, he was also a humanist and if Adam Smith were alive today, I can not say definitively which party if any he would have aligned with.

      1. Nunda

        I could not agree more.

  19. Bob Kerns

    His earlier book (1759, though you may more commonly find the 1780 edition) is also important reading for a full picture, Theory of Moral Sentiments.

    One should not blindly read Adam Smith. Engage your brain. A lot has changed since then. The world is bigger, faster, more complex.

    But you’ll be rewarded for the effort. Labor as the basis for all value is inadequate — but it was the perfect counter for the prior notion that a nation’s wealth lay in its collection of money (gold and silver). And guess what — money is different now, but we still measure the wealth of nations first and foremost — in money.

    So think about what other things are of value to you, besides your labor. And how they fit into the economy. LTV points the way. Don’t relate everything to money. Measure what you care about.

    We still need that insight. Now more than ever, really. With the rise of automation, the rise of vast concentrations of wealth, we are going to have some massive shifts in our future. Understanding what really matters, and the forces arrayed around us, is more critical than ever.

    It is interesting to me that you say it will give you a clear rebuttal to any liberal. Smith is associated with classical liberalism. Our political identities have gotten very confused.

    i use it as a rebuttal to people who identify as conservative and libertarian. People who seek to deny a role for government in protecting us from the worst impulses of the merchant class.

    And it seems all sides have their own misunderstandings of the “Invisible Hand”. For example, expecting it to solve your problem in the context of a market that is anything BUT free. (Libertarians, especially). Or missing the importance of the distributed, localized decision making that it represents. (Liberals).

    I look forward to adding your version to my collection.

    1. Mark Biernat

      The Theory of Moral Sentiments I intend to add. It is a book that puts Adam Smith enlightenment thinking into perspective. Even if it is different from Wealth of Nations in terms of topic they are interrelated because Smith was trying to mix economics with the philosophy of morals and happiness.

  20. Kenny

    Thank you so much I have always wanted to get my hands on this book looking at the bit knowledge Adam smith wrote that fascinated me as I studied economics and now I can see fully and from a classical perspective.
    Thanks I can not wait for more classics.

  21. Alejandro Ramirez

    Dear Mark, thanks a lot for providing such and excellent resource. I am a Mexican student in a postgraduate course on History of Economic Thought, I already have a book translated to Spanish but I am sure that it will be very helpful to read Smith on the original language. Best Regards all the way from Mexico.

  22. Brad Hobbs

    With the COVID-19 emergency you have a perfect opportunity to prove your beliefs. All you have to do is get your virus-free comrades together, sell your possessions and share the proceeds communally.

  23. Vuki

    With all due respect, Mark Capitalism is not winning the war against this virus its command economy. Just imagine the chaos if the government said let the market decide who lives and who dies. The central planner is not saying that. He/she is saying get your f in head out of the sand and do the following otherwise most of us will be dead. I am just amazed at the ignorance on this website. Adam Smith my a, the socialists are fixing the mess you are selling on this blog.

    1. Mark Biernat

      The Virus was created in a socialist country. Vaccines and medical innovations are usually created in Free-market countries.
      It is interesting to note the person in charge of the virus containment in China ‘got the flu’ and passed. Did he really? Remember in the cold war all the Soviet leaders who ‘got the flu’. That was the code word for they were purged.
      I question if the numbers coming out of China are accurate. I know communist governments have never ever falsified aggregate data and statistics (five-year plans and all).
      Look at the freedom index. Would you rather live in the countries at the bottom like North Korea and Vensualia or at the top like Ireland and the US?

      Also when you are looking at statistics you have to look at the reasons behind the numbers. Are the demographics in a particular country older or younger? Is that the reason for the different rates of contraction and mortality?

      Stay objective and do not take one situation and make a blanket statement. Rather think about economic theory and how it relates to a situation.

      Generally in a free market, more minds are engaged in a self-actualized way to help humanity. That is what the book ‘Wealth of Nations’ was about.

  24. Vuki

    Mark what political ideology rescued US from the Great Depression. The government run plans did it not the freehand and the goodness of the entrepreneur. You need to ask the “why” question. Why is it that you always equate democratic socialism with Stalinist dictatorship? From what you write you don’t seem to know that we have never had a communist economy never. What we had is state capitalism and China today is the best example of that.

    How quickly you forget that short time ago, the European world the child of Adam Smith was seizing (greed) colonies everywhere, not only without anticipating any real resistance but also usually despising any possible values in the conquered peoples’ approach to life. The ‘free hand” robbed, rapped, and killed millions. Within three hundred years the number of indigenous people was reduced from 70 million to under one million.

    Adam Smith’s view of the world led to these conquests. Capitalism leads to extremes of subservience. What do you think the bill should be that former colonial countries should present to the West? What should be the bill Iraq, Vietnam, African Nations or Central and South America should present to United States Spain, France, Portugal and Britain.
    If you have travelled in Europe, you must have marveled took pictures of palaces and public buildings, but did you ever ask yourself who financed this? Do I need to provide an answer for this? When slavery was eliminated in UK, slave owners were paid millions for the loss of “property” human beings. Under the terms of the Act, the British government raised £20 million (£16.5 billion in 2013 pounds, when calculated as wage values) to pay out for the loss of the slaves as business assets to the registered owners of the freed slaves.

    Why are there fifty million poor people in America? Why are there 2,3 million Americans in Jail? Why is it that 10% of Americans own 90% of wealth in US? Why is it that USA spends more on its military than the rest of the world combined? Why are there 40,000 death and thousands of injuries by guns in US? Why is it that for the past 70 years USA has been at war every year? The reason is Capitalism.

    And when you begin to ask these questions, you are raising questions about the economic system, about a broader distribution of wealth.’ When you ask these questions, you begin to question the capitalistic economy. And I’m simply saying that more and more, we’ve got to begin to ask questions about the whole society in Capitalist America.
    In your comment you attribute the virus to China. We have hundreds of viruses annually, some relatively mild and some deadly like the present one.

    In the past outbreaks it was the socialist countries that sent doctors to Africa. Recently Russia sent truckloads of medical supplies to Italy as well a over a hundred virologists and soldiers to help the Italian government, Cuba has sent thousands of doctors to front lines in Africa and South America and continues to do so. China similarly is sending equipment and doctors to Europe and the Middle East. Cuba’s education and healthcare is one of the best in the world. On the social index Cuba is number 4 in the Americas and they did not rob anyone. America wants to return it to be the whorehouse of the Western World that it was under Batista and his henchmen who found a home in America just like thousands of Nazis from Europe found a home in America, Canada, Brazil, Argentina and Central America. Some books for you to read “people’s History of the USA” by Zinn, Thomas Picketty book on social inequality, Open Veins of Latin America by Eduardo Galeano.

    Adam Smith has brought to America moral violence, motion pictures full of pornography, crime, and horror. This corrosion of evil is part of the free hand and considerably more of it than in the pauper and lawless former Soviet society. In a society where criminals get elected, billions are spent in a pretense democratic vote, a vote if it changed anything would be outlawed. Journalism where lies are accepted as truth leading the population like lemmings over the cliffs.

    1. Mark Biernat

      FDR and the New Deal right? Wrong? Anyone who studied economics knows that is not true.
      1) FDR took office and the New Deal started in 1933. The recovery happened in the 1950s. That was a recovery?
      2) Five years after the New Deal the US entered a Depression within a Depression with unemployment back up to almost 20%
      3) Government and the New Deal slowed recovery and kept Americans poor.
      4) When you allocate recourses to stimulate job growth you are taking it from the productive. Let’s say you are a financial blogger or MBS analyst in 2008 and then boom the crisis. The government has an idea. Let’s build bridges. That financial blogger is not going to build a bridge. He is out of work for a reason. It draws recourses away from the productive private sector labor pool.

      Read Robert P. Murphy’s book on the Great Depression or Murry Rothbard’s.

      Governments slow recovery and cause recessions. The invsible hand helps us all.

      1. Vuki

        Mark Capitalism needs war. WWII took millions of Americans out of the productive labour pool and put them into redundant production of war goods. If that had not happened USA would have had her revolution. The success of the recovery program created working conditions that corporations did not like and that was followed by the second Red Scare McCarthyism.. Unions were destroyed and robbery and war continue. Look at Albright “Clinton’s” Foreign Secretary who said about the 500,000 Iraqi children and elderly deaths due to US sanctions “the price was right”. She also said why produce weapons if you are not going to use them . This is a war criminal protected by a corrupt government protecting Capitalism for exploitation of the many by the few. .

        1. Mark Biernat

          War and Capitalism are opposed. War comes from the state and politicians, not from shop keepers and family homesteaders. Look at Northern Ireland. When trade opened up people stopped fighting. Or Vietnam, we trade instead of fighting them. Hard to dislike someone if they are providing your sustenance.

          I am an unrepentant capitalist but war and military and all that goes with it is a waste of humanity. The industrial-military complex is against all that is free. It is a million times worse than the Hunger Games Area. Not only because it is real but because of the magnitude. Not to mention what it does to young minds. It brainwashes them often for life.

          Better is to maximize personal liberties and freedoms and allow us to find ways to help one another.

        2. Mark Biernat

          I am very opposed to war. War is against freedom. To draft someone or tell them they are doing national service, young people, basically children is 1984. World peace comes through trade. Look at how Germany and Poland get along or Germany and France. When you have free movement of labor and capital, not need to fight, just move.

          1. Vuki

            Mark again with due respect your comment omits facts. Germany is doing well by impoverishing their neighbours. EU made Germany the America of Europe. When Euro was created the lira and the drachma were not devalued increasing their purchasing power while the Deutschmark was .As a result Germany prospered while the poor sisters stagnated . Purchasing power of the drachma and lira just two examples went up so the Greeks and Italians bought German goods (Germany booms) and Greeks and Italians neglected their own development (they stagnate) now they provide cheap labour and do work Germans refuse to do. Somewhat similar to the American situation now.

            US dollar is the reserve currency and its purchasing power is 20% higher than the currency of her trading partners so rather than making goods in USA outsourcing was the norm. Consumption of imported goods in US went up at the expense of American industry. In come the BRICS who attack the US dollar. Obama and now Trumps attempts to stop the problem by eliminating first the winnable BRICS like the Middle East and South American countries thus war with Iraq, Libya and attacks on Syria, and Iran. In the Americas Argentina, Venezuela, became targets. Original bricks were too big to attack using the marines so they did the General Fabian approach get them one at a time . They first went against Middle East and North Africa then against the south American non members . The first domino to fall of the big five was Brazil –South Africa is under attack and so is India. China was attacked through trade and Russia through Ukraine. Putin had something to say about this so the US press went after him but this was not 1980 and Brzezinski doctrine at work when Russia was isolated and oil prices were artificially reduced to $10 per barrel. You should be cheering for Putin who wants trade on the basis of domestic currencies (comparative advantage) rather than through the use of US dollar artificially high thanks to the printing machines of the reserve and the use of US’s main weapon in market manipulation the World Bank and the IMF to keep the small countries in line.
            As far as Germany and France as well as Poland getting along maybe you need to look at some other news outlets rather than CNN. Eastern and Southern Europe supplies cheap labour for France, Germany and UK. The war drums are beating in Europe as the Right has shown its ugly head in Ukraine, Poland, Hungary, and almost every country in Europe. The Marshall Plan has held Germany back from militarization by integrating its coal and steel production as well as its financial institutions which are held by USA corporations.

    2. Mark Biernat

      Are you jealous of others’ wealth? Inequality is caused by government. Think of the Federal Reserve and non-neutral money.

      1. Vuki

        No I am not jealous because I am in the one percent. I oppose playing in the game when the deck is stacked against the 99% , when the referee is chosen by the 1%, and when the rule book is written by the 1%. What is my point? We need to change the rules, the referee and the rule book.

        1. Mark Biernat

          I understand what you are saying. However, every time we police the market we replace the entrepreneur with government, which in my understanding of history is worst. In 2008, we would have been better to let the banks fall. A reason we have the 1% controlling is the central bank controls the money and feeds loans and stimulus to the banks which the rich have access to.

          It is because we have the government we have such inequality. I know it is hard to believe but it relates to the non-neutrality of money.

          1. Vuki

            Without regulations the human race would descend into chaos, and starvation. In every crisis we fall back onto command economy to solve the mess created by the free hand.

  25. Vuki

    Ah yes the theory of the invisible hand only works when one applies ‘Ceteris Paribus” In economics, the assumption of ceteris paribus, a Latin phrase meaning “with other things the same” or “other things being equal or held constant,” is important in determining causation. It helps isolate multiple independent variables affecting a dependent variable. look at the price of meat (beef) for example and ask yourself what sets that price. Mr. Brant will tell you its the “invisible hand” your demand and my supply. You want more I supply more or you want less I supply less. This is fiction. The price of beef is set by many other factors eg price of other meats, price of grain. price of other feeds, government regulations, transportation, wages. The price of substitutes, inputs and compliments are all factored into the price for beef . Invisible hand assumes that just you and I somehow determine production and consumption of beef . hogwash economics.

    1. Mark Biernat

      What? What are you talking about? The invisible hand is unintended consequence of enlighted self-interest. That computer you are typing on is made by millions and millions of people if you consider Milton Friedman’s discussion of a pencil. It is only possible because people are dynamically working together based on self-interest.

      1. Vuki

        In USSR workers stole pencils in USA the !% stole the pencil factories. You really don’t believe that you would hold your position “tenure” if you questioned Dupont or any other corporate donner to your university. You don’t have academic freedom. If our so called adversaries did what we are doing in every corner of the world what do you think our media would write? You know full well what that would be so I leave that to you to tell me.

        1. Mark Biernat

          I would rather live in the US any year than the Union. My family lived under the Union and it was not fun economically. Granted not all was bad, for example, people did not obsessed about careers and spent more time with family, but any system that controls the economy has to control people’s will and take away freedom. There was great inequality in the Union if you consider the party members.

          The US is not a free country. It is partly free.

  26. Vuki

    I guess you also believe that Hutus killed the Tutsis. Please tell us Mark if there were 800, 000 Tutsis in Rwanda and Hutus killed 700,000 why do we have a Tutsi president, Tutsi, army and Tutsi bureaucracy. Move over to the Congo and ask why in the past 10 or so years 6 million people were killed in the Congo many due to Tutsi military operation there. Both the Rwandan massacres and the Congo shame is due to Capitalism and both are lies presented by the likes of CNN and New York Times to the American people.

  27. Vuki

    Last point on this . WWI and WWII were both caused by Capitalism. In the 19th century labour demands challenged the autocrats and their perch on top of the economic pyramid. The autocrats used the virus nationalism which was planted in Sarajevo by the autocrats and spread throughout Europe from the pulpit . The Germans were blamed and punished kind of like what we are doing today . We blame the Chinese and the Russians who want to use “free trade” as it should be based on value of goods based on the cost of labour in production rather than the use of the inflated US dollar which allows US corporations to consume the worlds wealth at a 20% discount . The benefactor of WWI, US prospered using supply side theory which caused the great depression. Like today we blamed it on the Nazis and the communists when in fact they were both our creations. In the end we hoped to manipulate them to destroy each other. We became the new Nazis while Stalin picked up the other pieces pretending to be Marx’s disciple. As we marauded over the colonial people their every attempt for freedom and decolonization was met with it was USSR meddling. This still works as we continue to be better liars than the other side. .In the past 20 years the BRICS attempt to change this has resulted in all kinds of malfeasance and outright war by the Americans in order to keep the status quo. Ever since the Russian Revolution we have justified our every act of aggression as defence against the Godless Soviets now that Putin has found God we doped the God part and placed horns on Putin and from every pulpit in America he is the Devil.

    1. Mark Biernat

      WWI caused the Great Depression to some extent and WWII. War is a waste. It is not capitalism but rather nationalism that caused WWI. Libertarians from Rothbard to Murphy to the Mises institute, to myself oppose war as it strips people of their right to live.
      Free trade promotes peace. Governments create war.

      1. Vuki

        Yes Capitalist Governments. The governments that wanted to be socialist always defended and never attacked others.

        1. Mark Biernat

          I would not say that. For example, the Soviet Union suppressed Warsaw Pact rebellions, were fighting in the Middle East and Afghanistan, conquered South Vietnam, in an addition controlling their people with a police state.

          I am against wars of aggression like you are and I am a free-market advocate. War destroys humanity and destimulates the economy.

  28. Vuki

    Mark this is not a discussion on where you would rather live. Most Americans would respond “if you don’t like it here go back where you came from”. Such a response is not worthy of discussion. as it contradicts the freedoms that Americans supposedly hold dear. Capitalism represents competition democratic socialism represents co-operation. We are told to co-operate and share from the day we were born but one thing we don’t share is the production of our labour (surplus value) . Maybe a refresher course in the lesson on economic system needs to be revisited in order to understand the three basic questions ( what to produce?, how to produce it? and who gets the final product?)) every economic system must answer.

  29. Vuki

    Why don’t you do all of us a favour and read ‘The Peoples History of the United Statas” by Howard Zinn who served in Vietnam. Vietnam War was a war of decolonization. You seem to forget the Soviet union lost 50 million people due to WWII in which all of Europe participated including UK and France before Hitler attacked them. If you know anything about the Nazi regime in Germany it was armed and supported by UIK and France. in hopes to get Hitler to attack Stalin. The other point you need to know is that the Baltic countries, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania Croatia, Italy, France, Holland Denmark and Norway all attacked USSR or sent soldiers with the German forces against Russia. This was the history since the Vikings, the Teutonic Knights, Britain France Prussia and Austria Hungary and the Ottomans, Napoleon, Germany, 20 countries including US and Japan after WWI, Hitler and after WWII USA and NATO the cold war. You must knw about the Eisenhower and the Monroe Doctrine and its USSR counterpart the Brezhnev Doctrine and how that applied to the Soviet block which was agreed to after WWII. It was always Marsh to the East “Drang nach Osten” I lost my maternal grandfather on the Salonika Front WWI, my father and several uncles in WWII but I owed it to my students and to them to trach the next generation to ask questions and be critical thinkers . I am for the facts Mark no matter where they come from and its incumbent on you and me to provide evidence for what we write that is measurable, verifiable and peer reviewed otherwise we will just perpetuate the disease NATIONALISM which is worse than the one for which you blame China.

  30. HM

    Mark – I have been reading through the comments, and I think you do an excellent job of asking questions to prompt consideration . In light of the intensity and solemnity of the topic, this is very good. Many thanks for posting the pdf – yours was the only unabridged copy I could find (my library only carries excerpted versions, and I would rather decide for myself if something is ‘trivial’ enough to leave out). Good job again on keeping a cool head and a respectful discussion – I enjoyed reading your commentary.

    1. Mark Biernat

      Thank you, Wealth of Nations is a worthy read if you want to know more about the world around you and why some nations are rich and some are poor. This can be further extended to some extent to individuals. Hint Adam Smith was big on education.

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