Adam Smith

Definition of 'Adam Smith'


An 18th-century philosopher and free-market economist famous for his ideas about the efficiency of the division of labor and the societal benefits of individuals' pursuit of their own self-interest. In his first book, The Theory of Moral Sentiments, Smith proposed the idea of the invisible hand, or the tendency of free markets to regulate themselves by means of competition, supply and demand, and self-interest. Smith is also known for his theory of compensating wage differentials, meaning that dangerous or undesirable jobs will tend to pay higher wages to attract workers to these positions. Smith died in 1790.

Investopedia explains 'Adam Smith'


Smith is famously quoted as saying in his 1776 magnum opus, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, "It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own self-interest." Smith's ideas form the foundation of laissez-faire economics.



comments powered by Disqus
Hot Definitions
  1. Federal Reserve Note

    The most accurate term used to describe the paper currency (dollar bills) circulated in the United States. These Federal Reserve Notes are printed by the U.S. Treasury at the instruction of the Federal Reserve member banks, who also act as the clearinghouse for local banks that need to increase or reduce their supply of cash on hand.
  2. Benchmark Bond

    A bond that provides a standard against which the performance of other bonds can be measured. Government bonds are almost always used as benchmark bonds. Also referred to as "benchmark issue" or "bellwether issue".
  3. Market Capitalization

    The total dollar market value of all of a company's outstanding shares. Market capitalization is calculated by multiplying a company's shares outstanding by the current market price of one share. The investment community uses this figure to determine a company's size, as opposed to sales or total asset figures.
  4. Oil Reserves

    An estimate of the amount of crude oil located in a particular economic region. Oil reserves must have the potential of being extracted under current technological constraints. For example, if oil pools are located at unattainable depths, they would not be considered part of the nation's reserves.
  5. Joint Venture - JV

    A business arrangement in which two or more parties agree to pool their resources for the purpose of accomplishing a specific task. This task can be a new project or any other business activity. In a joint venture (JV), each of the participants is responsible for profits, losses and costs associated with it.
  6. Aggregate Risk

    The exposure of a bank, financial institution, or any type of major investor to foreign exchange contracts - both spot and forward - from a single counterparty or client. Aggregate risk in forex may also be defined as the total exposure of an entity to changes or fluctuations in currency rates.
Trading Center