Tuesday 3 November 2009

the short answer

In his lecture tonight at Gresham College, Professor Kenneth Costa, chairman of Lazard International, argues that Adam Smith is much misunderstood.

In a short version of the lecture that appears in today's FT he writes that Adam Smith believed that:

the economy could not function properly without ethical foundations. He did not believe that people should act with complete disregard for each other.

The Professor asks:

Why do we seem to think otherwise? Why do we seem to have lost the grammar of ethical discourse, at least in business?

He answers his own question with a single phrase: 'short-term gains'.

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