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Reflections on the Invisible Hand


  • 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.

Suggested Citation

  • Hahn, Frank, 1981. "Reflections on the Invisible Hand," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 196, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  • 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 774A, UCLA Department of Economics.
    2. Torben M. Andersen, 2004. "Macroeconomics - Which Way Now?," 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 823, UCLA Department of Economics.
    4. Roy Grieve, 2009. "Price flexibility and full employment: a common misconception," Working Papers 0910, University of Strathclyde Business School, Department of Economics.

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