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Reflections on the Invisible Hand


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  • Hahn, Frank


That a society of greedy and selfseeking people constrained only by the criminal law and the law of the property and contact should be capable of an orderly and coherent disposition of its economic resources is very surprising. Marx called such a society anarchic and so it is. Yet ever since Adam Smith economists have been concerned to show that such anarchy is consistent with order and indeed with certain desirable outcomes. Smith proposed that the market system acted like a guiding - an invisible - hand. It was invisible since in fact there was no actual hand on the rudder. The metaphor which he chose was exactly opposite.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Warwick, Department of Economics in its series The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) with number 196.

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Length: 27 pages
Date of creation: 1981
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wrk:warwec:196

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Cited by:
  1. Deepak Lal, 1997. "From Planning to Regulation: Towards a New Dirigisme?," UCLA Economics Working Papers, UCLA Department of Economics 774A, UCLA Department of Economics.
  2. Torben M. Andersen, 2004. "Macroeconomics - Which Way Now?," Nordic Journal of Political Economy, Nordic Journal of Political Economy, Nordic Journal of Political Economy, vol. 30, pages 3-9.
  3. Deepak Lal, 2002. "Free Trade and Laissez Faire," UCLA Economics Working Papers, UCLA Department of Economics 823, UCLA Department of Economics.
  4. Roy Grieve, 2009. "Price flexibility and full employment: a common misconception," Working Papers, University of Strathclyde Business School, Department of Economics 0910, University of Strathclyde Business School, Department of Economics.


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