Adam Smith Quotes

Do you have any favorite Adam Smith quotes?

Adam Smith was an economist, author and philosopher who is mostly known for being the pioneer of the modern day political economy. His book, The Wealth of Nations, which was published in 1776 has many economic theories that can be considered to be key elements in modern day economic policies.

As an author, Adam Smith wrote multiple books like The Wealth of Nations, The Theory of Moral Sentiments, Essays on Philosophical Subjects and many others.

Here are some famous Adam Smith quotes on economics, capitalism, free markets, self-interest, invisible hand, moral sentiments and the wealth of nations:

Famous Adam Smith Quotes

Famous Adam Smith Quotes

1. All money is a matter of belief. -Adam Smith

2. Defense is superior to opulence. -Adam Smith

3. Happiness never lays its finger on its pulse. -Adam Smith

4. The real tragedy of the poor is the poverty of their aspirations. -Adam Smith

5. Science is the great antidote to the poison of enthusiasm and superstition. -Adam Smith

6. I have never known much good done by those who affected to trade for the public good. -Adam Smith

7. What can be added to the happiness of a man who is in health, out of debt, and has a clear conscience?

Adam Smith

8. Humanity is the virtue of a woman, generosity that of a man. -Adam Smith

9. Man is an animal that makes bargains: no other animal does this – no dog exchanges bones with another. -Adam Smith

10. Virtue is more to be feared than vice, because its excesses are not subject to the regulation of conscience. -Adam Smith

11. The real price of everything, what everything really costs to the man who wants to acquire it, is the toil and trouble of acquiring it. -Adam Smith

12. Resentment seems to have been given us by nature for a defense, and for a defense only! It is the safeguard of justice and the security of innocence. -Adam Smith

13. Poor David Hume is dying fast, but with more real cheerfulness and good humor and with more real resignation to the necessary course of things, than any whining Christian ever dyed with pretended resignation to the will of God. -Adam Smith

Adam Smith Quotes On Economics

Adam Smith Quotes On Economics

14. Consumption is the sole end and purpose of all production. -Adam Smith

15. In regards to the price of commodities, the rise of wages operates as simple interest does, the rise of profit operates like compound interest. -Adam Smith

16. Economics is an inquiry into the nature and causes of the wealth of nations.

Adam Smith

17. Our merchants and masters complain much of the bad effects of high wages in raising the price and lessening the sale of goods. They say nothing concerning the bad effects of high profits. They are silent with regard to the pernicious effects of their own gains. They complain only of those of other people. -Adam Smith

18. The value of any commodity, therefore, to the person who possesses it, and who means not to use or consume it himself, but to exchange it for other commodities, is equal to the quantity of labor which it enables him to purchase or command. Labor, therefore, is the real measure of the exchangeable value of all commodities. The real price of everything, what everything really costs to the man who wants to acquire it, is the toil and trouble of acquiring it. -Adam Smith

Adam Smith Quotes On Capitalism

Adam Smith Quotes On Capitalism

19. A gardener who cultivates his own garden with his own hands, unites in his own person the three different characters, of landlord, farmer, and laborer. His produce, therefore, should pay him the rent of the first, the profit of the second, and the wages of the third. -Adam Smith

20. But avarice and ambition in the rich, in the poor the hatred of labor and the love of present ease and enjoyment, are the passions which prompt to invade property, passions much more steady in their operation, and much more universal in their influence. Wherever there is great property there is great inequality. For one very rich man there must be at least five hundred poor, and the affluence of the few supposes the indigence of the many. -Adam Smith

21. It is not by augmenting the capital of the country, but by rendering a greater part of that capital active and productive than would otherwise be so, that the most judicious operations of banking can increase the industry of the country.

Adam Smith

22. It is not very unreasonable that the rich should contribute to the public expense, not only in proportion to their revenue, but something more than in that proportion. -Adam Smith

23. No society can surely be flourishing and happy, of which the far greater part of the members are poor and miserable. It is but equity, besides, that they who feed, clothe and lodge the whole body of the people, should have such a share of the produce of their own labor as to be themselves tolerably well fed, clothed and lodged. -Adam Smith

Adam Smith Quotes On Free Markets

Adam Smith Quotes On Free Markets

24. In a free trade, an effectual combination cannot be established but by the unanimous consent of every single trader, and it cannot last longer than every single trader continues of the same mind.

Adam Smith

Adam Smith Quotes On Government

Adam Smith Quotes On Government

25. The subjects of every state ought to contribute towards the support of the government, as nearly as possible, in proportion to their respective abilities. -Adam Smith

26. It is the highest impertinence and presumption… in kings and ministers, to pretend to watch over the economy of private people, and to restrain their expense… They are themselves always, and without any exception, the greatest spendthrifts in the society. Let them look well after their own expense, and they may safely trust private people with theirs. If their own extravagance does not ruin the state, that of their subjects never will. -Adam Smith

27. There is no art which one government sooner learns of another than that of draining money from the pockets of the people.

Adam Smith

28. It is the great multiplication of the productions of all the different arts, in consequence of the division of labor, which occasions, in a well-governed society, that universal opulence which extends itself to the lowest ranks of the people. -Adam Smith

29. A criminal is a person with predatory instincts who has not sufficient capital to form a corporation. Most government is by the rich for the rich. Government comprises a large part of the organized injustice in any society, ancient or modern. Civil government, insofar as it is instituted for the security of property, is in reality instituted for the defense of the rich against the poor, and for the defense of those who have property against those who have none. -Adam Smith

Adam Smith Quotes On Self-Interest

Adam Smith Quotes On Self-Interest

30. By pursuing his own interest (the individual) frequently promotes that of the society more effectually than when he really intends to promote it. I have never known much good done by those who affected to trade for the public good. -Adam Smith

31. It is the interest of every man to live as much at his ease as he can; and if his emoluments are to be precisely the same, whether he does or does not perform some very laborious duty, it is certainly his interest, at least as interest is vulgarly understood, either to neglect it altogether, or, if he is subject to some authority which will not suffer him to do this, to perform it in as careless and slovenly a manner as that authority will permit.

Adam Smith

32. It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from regard to their own interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our own necessities but of their advantages. Nobody but a beggar chooses to depend chiefly upon the benevolence of his fellow citizens. -Adam Smith

Adam Smith Invisible Hand Quotes

Adam Smith Invisible Hand Quotes

33. Every individual necessarily labors to render the annual revenue of society as great as he can. He generally neither intends to promote the public interest, nor knows how much he is promoting it. He intends only his own gain, and he is, in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was not part of his intention. -Adam Smith

34. He is led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention.

Adam Smith

35. [The rich] consume little more than the poor, and in spite of their natural selfishness and rapacity…they divide with the poor the produce of all their improvements. They are led by an invisible hand to make nearly the same distribution of the necessaries of life, which would have been made, had the earth been divided into equal portions among all its inhabitants, and thus without intending it, without knowing it, advance the interest of the society, and afford means to the multiplication of the species. -Adam Smith

Adam Smith Theory Of Moral Sentiments Quotes

Adam Smith Theory Of Moral Sentiments Quotes

36. To superficial minds, the vices of the great seem at all times agreeable. -Adam Smith

37. We are but one of the multitude, in no respect better than any other in it. -Adam Smith

38. Hatred and anger are the greatest poison to the happiness of a good mind. -Adam Smith

39. Never complain of that of which it is at all times in your power to rid yourself. -Adam Smith

40. Virtue is excellence, something uncommonly great and beautiful, which rises far above what is vulgar and ordinary. -Adam Smith

41. The profligacy of a man of fashion is looked upon with much less contempt and aversion, than that of a man of meaner condition. -Adam Smith

42. The prudent man always studies seriously and earnestly to understand whatever he professes to understand, and not merely to persuade other people that he understands it; and though his talents may not always be very brilliant, they are always perfectly genuine. -Adam Smith

43. The most sacred laws of justice are the laws which guard the life and person of our neighbor.

Adam Smith

44. Man naturally desires, not only to be loved, but to be lovely. -Adam Smith

45. The furious behavior of an angry man is more likely to exasperate us against himself than against his enemies. -Adam Smith

46. The great source of both the misery and disorders of human life, seems to arise from over-rating the difference between one permanent situation and another. -Adam Smith

47. How selfish soever man may be supposed, there are evidently some principles in his nature, which interest him in the fortune of others, and render their happiness necessary to him, though he derives nothing from it except the pleasure of seeing it. -Adam Smith

48. Every faculty in one man is the measure by which he judges of the like faculty in another.  I judge of your sight by my sight, of your ear by my ear, of your reason by my reason, of your resentment by my resentment, of your love by my love.  I neither have, nor can have, any other way of judging about them. -Adam Smith

49. The great source of both the misery and disorders of human life, seems to arise from over-rating the difference between one permanent situation and another. Avarice over-rates the difference between poverty and riches: ambition, that between a private and a public station: vain-glory, that between obscurity and extensive reputation. -Adam Smith

50. This disposition to admire, and almost to worship, the rich and the powerful, and to despise, or, at least, to neglect persons of poor and mean condition, though necessary both to establish and to maintain the distinction of ranks and the order of society, is, at the same time, the great and most universal cause of the corruption of our moral sentiments. -Adam Smith

Adam Smith Wealth Of Nations Quotes

Adam Smith Wealth Of Nations Quotes

51. No society can flourish of which the greater part is poor and miserable. -Adam Smith

52. Man is an animal that makes bargains: no other animal does this – no dog exchanges bones with another. -Adam Smith

53. The division of labor, however, so far as it can be introduced, occasions, in every art, a proportionable increase of the productive powers of labor. -Adam Smith

54. People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices. -Adam Smith

55. Every man, as long as he does not violate the laws of justice, is left perfectly free to pursue his own interest his own way, and to bring both his industry and capital into competition with those of any other man, or order of men. -Adam Smith

56. A man must always live by his work, and his wages must at least be sufficient to maintain him. They must even upon most occasions be somewhat more; otherwise it would be impossible for him to bring up a family, and the race of such workmen could not last beyond the first generation. -Adam Smith

57. As soon as the land of any country has all become private property, the landlords, like all other men, love to reap where they never sowed, and demand a rent even for its natural produce. The wood of the forest, the grass of the field, and all the natural fruits of the earth, which, when land was in common, cost the laborer only the trouble of gathering them, come, even to him, to have an additional price fixed upon them. -Adam Smith

58. The man whose whole life is spent in performing a few simple operations, of which the effects are perhaps always the same, or very nearly the same, has no occasion to exert his understanding or to exercise his invention in finding out expedients for removing difficulties which never occur. He naturally loses, therefore, the habit of such exertion, and generally becomes as stupid and ignorant as it is possible for a human creature to become.

Adam Smith

59. Money, says the proverb, makes money. When you have got a little, it is often easy to get more. The great difficulty is to get that little. -Adam Smith

60. The wages of labor are the encouragement of industry, which, like every other human quality, improves in proportion to the encouragement it receives. -Adam Smith

61. When by an increase in the effectual demand, the market price of some particular commodity happens to rise a good deal above the natural price, those who employ their stocks in supplying that market are generally careful to conceal this change. -Adam Smith

62. I am always willing to run some hazard of being tedious, in order to be sure that I am perspicuous; and, after taking the utmost pains that I can to be perspicuous, some obscurity may still appear to remain upon a subject, in its own nature extremely abstracted. -Adam Smith

63. The annual labor of every nation is the fund which originally supplies it with all the necessaries and conveniences of life which it annually consumes, and which consist always either in the immediate produce of that labor, or in what is purchased with that produce from other nations. -Adam Smith

64. Wherever there is great property there is great inequality. For one very rich man there must be at least five hundred poor, and the affluence of the few supposes the indigence of the many. The affluence of the rich excites the indignation of the poor, who are often both driven by want, and prompted by envy, to invade his possessions. -Adam Smith

65. Nobody ever saw a dog make a fair and deliberate exchange of one bone for another with another dog. Nobody ever saw one animal by its gestures and natural cries signify to another, this is mine, that yours; I am willing to give this for that….But man has almost constant occasion for the help of his brethren, and it is in vain for him to expect it from their benevolence only. He will be more likely to prevail if he can interest their self-love in his favor, and show them that it is for their own advantage to do for him what he requires of them. Whoever offers to another a bargain of any kind, proposes to do this. Give me that which I want, and you shall have this which you want, is the meaning of every such offer; and it is in this manner that we obtain from one another the far greater part of those good offices which we stand in need of. -Adam Smith