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Paul Krugman Does Some Injustice to the Thoughts of Adam Smith On Money, Gold, and Silver

jessescrossroadscafe.blogspot.com / By Jesse / 23 DECEMBER 2013

Paul Krugman, in making his argument about gold, bitcoins, and paper money,  ‘quotes’ Adam Smith, although somewhat circuitously, as seemingly to deride gold and silver in favor of paper money.

I discuss that column of his here.    And here is Mr. Krugman’s quote from Adam Smith.

“I suspect, however, that Adam Smith would have been dismayed.  Smith is often treated as a conservative patron saint, and he did indeed make the original case for free markets. It’s less often mentioned, however, that he also argued strongly for bank regulation — and that he offered a classic paean to the virtues of paper currency. 

Money, he understood, was a way to facilitate commerce, not a source of national prosperity — and paper money, he argued, allowed commerce to proceed without tying up much of a nation’s wealth in a “dead stock” of silver and gold.”

I looked up quite a few of the references to ‘dead stock’ in Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations since Paul K does not provide an actual quote, and found plenty of references to ‘money’ as ‘dead stock,’ but nothing in particular to gold and silverper se.

I doubt that Adam Smith thought of them as barbarous relics as Paul seems to imply.  I could be wrong and would be interested in seeing a quote that says what Mr. Krugman implies that Adam Smith says.  Perhaps he can consult his notes and provide an actual quote in context.

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