Saturday, March 20, 2010

Ubiquitous Invisible Hand References

Another week-end and another long list of 'invisible-hand' alerts to read through.

I thought readers may like to know just how many mentions of the invisible hand there are in a week (I would put it in the high 90s, often more).

Now these alerts vary from direct quotations or discussion on economics, through to scores of unrelated subjects bounded only by the limitations of their authors' imaginations, as some of those included in my short extracts below show. Normally, I am selective and dump most of them.

But the point I am making is that the metaphor of 'an invisible hand' is as widely used today as it was among literate people in the 17th and 18th centuries, many of them before Adam Smith used it in twice in his two published books, Moral Sentiments (1759) and Wealth Of Nations (1776), plus once in his 'juvenile essay', published posthumously in 1795.

It was only with the new of interest in Adam Smith's use of the popular invisible hand metaphor in the late 1940s, that what became a proliferation gathered pace from the 1950s. It is now ubiquitous among modern economists and has spread out as the millions of readers of Samuelson's very successful textbook, Economics: an introductoy analysis, published in 1948 and now in its 19th edition, remembered the story of the invisible hand even if they forgot the economics, no matter where their career paths took them.

A selection from the first page of his morning's haul of invisible-hand references in the world's press:

1 Dianne Hardistry writes in HERE:

Carlson came to the Treasury Department job with an MBA from Stanford University and years of experience in the banking industry. In between, she was a lobbyist in Washington, D.C., founded the business writing firm Invisible Hand LLC, served as the executive vice president of global government affairs for the Motion Picture Association of America and was a member of California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's senior Washington staff.”

2 Damien Hoffman writes in Wall Street Cheat Sheet HERE:

Michael Jackson's Invisible Gloved Hand Strikes Biggest Record Deal in History”

3 Alissa j. Rubin writes in The New York Times (19 March) HERE:

“In the shifting shadows of this often invisible war, where no one is sure who is lying and who is telling the truth, it seemed a reasonable way to resolve ..”

4 Daily Mail online, UK, 20 March here

Joseph chief executive Sara Ferrero said:' 'He has been an invisible magic hand guiding me in this last two years. He will always be in my thoughts.'”

5 sikhsubculture writes in SikhNet (18 March) HERE:

The future of Sikhism is threatened by Adam Smith's infamous invisible hand. Furthermore, attempts at regulating the vast and far flung patka market have failed as huge black markets in the backs of unscrupulous langar halls have taken ...”

6 John Langford writes (20 March) in Yahoo Research HERE:

The Invisible Hand of Machine Learning

7 Shubha (19 March) in Live Lounge HERE:

“The invisible hand of audio engineers,”

8 Yair Ettinger writes (18 March) The invisible hand - Haaretz - Israel News HERE:

9 Monika Mitchell writes The Invisible Hand in Good Business International

Yet man is a funny beast Adam knew, and in case of a lapse in reason a guiding hand, “the Invisible Hand,” existed to override his less intelligent and ...

10 Wonkette DC gossip (20 March) HERE

GOP Congressmen Start Throwing Civil War References Around

“Also, if only there were no government interference with the marketplace, the miraculous workings of the invisible hand will ensure that virtue and hard work are rewarded, and dishonesty and laziness punished, and the markets will

11 Chicago Breaking Business News (2o March) HERE:

Fine, than the invisible hand will lead employees to look for better places to work and job seekers will not want to work for you. It's not all about keeping investors happy. You also need to keep employees happy or the ones you have ...”

12 The Last Psychiatrist: The Source Of Society's Ills writes (20 March) HERE:

“There's no "invisible hand" at work here. Wilkinson is not just another academic social policy theorist who references Marx; he is also the editor of the 2003 version of the WHO report on social justice. ..

13 Victoria Yates writes on Jeremy Rifkin writes Writing From The Cafe HERE

'Empathy is the invisible hand – to empathize is to civilize, to civilize is to empathize' Rifkin

I have another 7 pages to read too, with more to come during Saturday.



Blogger Matt Young said...

I presume we are allowed to use "Hidden Hand" is we don't reference Smith? I specifically avoid mentioning the dead man at all costs for fear of mixing the Hidden Hand with him and getting in trouble.

2:46 p.m.  
Blogger Gavin Kennedy said...

If you are making use of 'hidden hand' as a metaphor, fine; if you attribute it in some way to Adam Smith you may be wrong to do so. Hew certainly did not use the metaphor for other than his purpose, which had nothing to do with how markets work, unintentional consequences (in the Heykian sense), or the inevitability of benign outcomes from pursuing self-interests.


4:47 p.m.  

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