97+ Best Adam Smith Quotes: Exclusive Selection

Adam Smith FRSA was a Scottish economist, philosopher and author as well as a moral philosopher, a pioneer of political economy and a key figure during the Scottish Enlightenment, also known as ”The Father of Economics” or ”The Father of Capitalism”. Profoundly inspirational Adam Smith quotes will encourage you to think a little deeper than you usually would and broaden your perspective.

Famous Adam Smith Quotes

Man, an animal that makes bargains. – Adam Smith

Whenever the legislature attempts to regulate differences between masters and their workmen, its counsellors are always the masters. When the regulation, therefore, is in favor of the workmen, it is always just and equitable; but it is sometimes otherwise when in favor of the masters. – Adam Smith

No society can surely be flourishing and happy, of which the far greater part of the members are poor and miserable. – Adam Smith

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

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

Individual Ambition Serves the Common Good. – Adam Smith

With the greater part of rich people, the chief enjoyment of riches consists in the parade of riches, which in their eye is never so complete as when they appear to possess those decisive marks of opulence which nobody can possess but themselves. – Adam Smith

It is unjust that the whole of society should contribute towards an expense of which the benefit is confined to a part of the society. – Adam Smith

In public, as well as in private expenses, great wealth may, perhaps, frequently be admitted as an apology for great folly. – Adam Smith

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

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

Every man lives by exchanging. – Adam Smith

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

Mercy to the guilty is cruelty to the innocent. – Adam Smith

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

What is prudence in the conduct of every private family can scarce be folly in that of a great kingdom. – Adam Smith

Nothing but the most exemplary morals can give dignity to a man of small fortune. – Adam Smith

The education of the common people requires, perhaps, in a civilized and commercial society, the attention of the public more than that of people of some rank and fortune. – Adam Smith

The sneaking arts of underling tradesmen are thus erected into political maxims for the conduct of a great empire; for it is the most underling tradesmen only who make it a rule to employ chiefly their own customers. A great trader purchases his good always where they are cheapest and best, without regard to any little interest of this kind. – Adam Smith

Among civilized and thriving nations, on the contrary, though a great number of people do no labor at all, many of whom consume the produce of ten times, frequently of a hundred times more labor than the greater part of those who work; yet the produce of the whole labor of the society is so great, that all are often abundantly supplied, and a workman, even of the lowest and poorest order, if he is frugal and industrious, may enjoy a greater share of the necessaries and conveniences of life than it is possible for any savage to acquire. – Adam Smith

Have lots of experiments, but make sure they’re strategically focused. – Adam Smith

A sketch of a man facing to the right. – Adam Smith

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

The statesman who should attempt to direct private people in what manner they ought to employ their capitals would not only load himself with most unnecessary attention but assume an authority which could safely be trusted to no council and senate whatever, and which would nowhere be so dangerous as in the hands of man who have folly and presumption enough to fancy himself fit to exercise it. – Adam Smith

I have no faith in political arithmetic. – Adam Smith

It seldom happens, however, that a great proprietor is a great improver. – Adam Smith

The first thing you have to know is yourself. A man who knows himself can step outside himself and watch his own reactions like an observer. – Adam Smith

How selfish so ever 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

The principle which prompts to save is the desire of bettering our condition a desire which comes with us from the womb and never leaves us till we go into the grave. – Adam Smith

To subject every private family to the odious visits and examination of the tax-gatherers … would be altogether inconsistent with liberty. – Adam Smith

Are you in earnest resolved never to barter your liberty for the lordly servitude of a court, but to live free, fearless, and independent? There seems to be one way to continue in that virtuous resolution; and perhaps but one. Never enter the place from whence so few have been able to return; never come within the circle of ambition; nor ever bring yourself into comparison with those masters of the earth who have already engrossed the attention of half mankind before you. – Adam Smith

The natural effort of every individual to better his own condition is so powerful that it is alone, and without any assistance, capable not only of carrying on the society to wealth and prosperity, but of surmounting 100 impertinent obstructions with which the folly of human laws too often encumbers its operations. – Adam Smith

He is led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention – Adam Smith

In ease of body, peace of mind, all the different ranks of life are nearly upon a level and the beggar who suns himself by the side of the highway, possesses that security which kings are fighting for. – Adam Smith

Little else is requisite to carry a state to the highest degree of opulence from the lowest barbarism but peace, easy taxes, and a tolerable administration of justice: all the rest being brought about by the natural course of things. – Adam Smith

I have no great faith in political arithmetic, and I mean not to warrant the exactness of either of these computations. – Adam Smith

Secrets in manufactures are capable of being longer kept than secrets in trade. – Adam Smith

Every individual is continually exerting himself to find out the most advantageous employment for whatever capital he can command. It is his own advantage, indeed, and not that of the society which he has in view. But the study of his own advantage naturally, or rather necessarily, leads him to prefer that employment which is most advantageous to society… 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

The 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 is the great and most universal cause of the corruption of our moral sentiments. – Adam Smith

Though our brother is upon the rack, as long as we ourselves are at ease, our senses will never inform us of what he suffers. They never did and never can carry us beyond our own persons, and it is by the imagination only that we form any conception of what are his sensations…His agonies, when they are thus brought home to ourselves, when we have this adopted and made them our own, begin at last to affect us, and we then tremble and shudder at the thought of what he feels. – Adam Smith

The great secret of education is to direct vanity to proper objects. – Adam Smith

The ancient Egyptians had a superstitious antipathy to the sea; a superstition nearly of the same kind prevails among the Indians; and the Chinese have never excelled in foreign commerce. – Adam Smith

It would be too ridiculous to go about seriously to prove that wealth does not consist in money, or in gold and silver; but in what money purchases and is valuable only for purchasing. Money no doubt, makes always a part of the national capital; but it has already been shown that it generally makes but a small part, and always the most unprofitable part of it. – Adam Smith

Nothing is more graceful than habitual cheerfulness. – Adam Smith

The man scarce lives who is not more credulous than he ought to be… The natural disposition is always to believe. It is acquired wisdom and experience only that teach incredulity, and they very seldom teach it enough. – Adam Smith

To feel much for others and little for ourselves, that to restrain our selfish, and to indulge our benevolent affections, constitutes the perfection of human nature. – Adam Smith

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

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

All jobs are created in direct proportion to the amount of capital employed. – Adam Smith

No complaint… is more common than that of a scarcity of money. – Adam Smith

Corn is a necessary, silver is only a superfluity. – Adam Smith

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

The importation of gold and silver is not the principal, much less the sole benefit which a nation derives from its foreign trade. – Adam Smith

Great nations are never impoverished by private, though they sometimes are by public prodigality and misconduct. – Adam Smith

Fear is in almost all cases a wretched instrument of government, and ought in particular never to be employed against any order of men who have the smallest pretensions to independency. – Adam Smith

Sugar, rum and tobacco are commodities which are nowhere necessaries of life, which are become objects of almost universal consumption, and which are therefore extremely proper subjects of taxation. – Adam Smith

But poverty, though it does not prevent the generation, is extremely unfavorable to the rearing of children. The tender plant is produced, but in so cold a soil, and so severe a climate, soon withers and dies. – Adam Smith

Great ambition, the desire of real superiority, of leading and directing, seems to be altogether peculiar to man, and speech is the great instrument of ambition. – Adam Smith

Capitals are increased by parsimony and diminished by prodigality and misconduct. By what a frugal man annually saves he not only affords maintenance to an additional number of productive hands? But the establishes as it were a perpetual fund for the maintenance of an equal number in all times to come. – Adam Smith

The discipline of colleges and universities is in general contrived, not for the benefit of the students, but for the interest, or more properly speaking, for the ease of the masters. Its object is, in all cases, to maintain the authority of the master, and whether he neglects or performs his duty, to oblige the students in all cases to behave toward him as if he performed it with the greatest diligence and ability. – Adam Smith

When profit diminishes, merchants are very apt to complain that trade decays; though the diminution of profit is the natural effect of its prosperity, or of a greater stock being employed in it than before. – Adam Smith

That the chance of gain is naturally over-valued, we may learn from the universal success of lotteries. – Adam Smith

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

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

The directors of such companies, however, being the managers rather of other people’s money than of their own, it cannot well be expected, that they should watch over it with the same anxious vigilance with which the partners in a private copartnery frequently watch over their own…. Negligence and profusion, therefore, must always prevail, more or less, in the management of the affairs of such a company. – Adam Smith

Consumption is the sole end and purpose of all production; and the interest of the producer ought to be attended to, only so far as it may be necessary for promoting that of the consumer. – Adam Smith

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

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

Problems worthy of attacks, prove their worth by hitting back – Adam Smith

We are delighted to find a person who values us as we value ourselves, and distinguishes us from the rest of mankind, with an attention not unlike that with which we distinguish ourselves. – Adam Smith

It is not the actual greatness of national wealth, but its continual increase, which occasions a rise in the wages of labor. It is not, accordingly, in the richest countries, but in the most thriving, or in those which are growing rich the fastest, that the wages of labor are highest. England is certainly, in the present times, a much richer country than any part of North America. The wages of labor, however, are much higher in North America than in any part of England. – Adam Smith

Avarice and injustice are always shortsighted, and they did not foresee how much this regulation must obstruct improvement, and thereby hurt in the long run the real interest of the landlord. – Adam Smith

Labor was the first price, the original purchase – money that was paid for all things. It was not by gold or by silver, but by labor, that all wealth of the world was originally purchased. – Adam Smith

A monopoly granted either to an individual or to a trading company has the same effect as a secret in trade or manufactures. The monopolists, by keeping the market constantly understocked, by never fully supplying the effectual demand, sell their commodities much above the natural price, and raise their emoluments, whether they consist in wages or profit, greatly above their natural rate. – Adam Smith

A very poor man may be said in some sense to have a demand for a coach and six; he might like to have it; but his demand is not an effectual demand, as the commodity can never be brought to market in order to satisfy it. – Adam Smith

The interest of [businessmen] is always in some respects different from, and even opposite to, that of the public … The proposal of any new law or regulation of commerce which comes from this order … ought never to be adopted, till after having been long and carefully examined … with the most suspicious attention. It comes from an order of men … who have generally an interest to deceive and even oppress the public. – Adam Smith

The uniform, constant, and uninterrupted effort of every man to better his condition . . . is frequently powerful enough to maintain the natural progress of things toward improvement, in spite of the extravagance of government, and of the greatest errors of administration. – Adam Smith

A nation is not made wealthy by the childish accumulation of shiny metals, but it enriched by the economic prosperity of it’s people. – Adam Smith

The man of system is apt to be very wise in his own conceit. In the great chess board of human society, every single piece has a principle of motion of its own altogether different from that which the legislature might choose to impress upon it – Adam Smith

An instructed and intelligent people are always more decent and orderly than an ignorant and stupid one. – Adam Smith

To expect, indeed, that the freedom of trade should ever be entirely restored in Great Britain, is as absurd as to expect that an Oceana or Utopia should never be established in it. – Adam Smith

There is no art which government sooner learns of another than that of draining money from the pockets of the people. – Adam Smith

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

Justice, however, never was in reality administered gratis in any country. Lawyers and attorneys, at least, must always be paid by the parties; and, if they were not, they would perform their duty still worse than they actually perform it. – Adam Smith

The rate of profit… is naturally low in rich and high in poor countries, and it is always highest in the countries which are going fastest to ruin. – Adam Smith

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

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 interest. – Adam Smith

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

That a joint stock company should be able to carry on successfully any branch of foreign trade, when private adventurers can come into any sort of open and fair competition with them, seems contrary to all experience. – Adam Smith

Men desire to have some share in the management of public affairs chiefly on account of the importance which it gives them. – Adam Smith

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

The emotions of the spectator will still be very apt to fall short of the violence of what is felt by the sufferer. Mankind, though naturally sympathetic, never conceive, for what has befallen another, that degree of passion which naturally animates the person principally concerned. – Adam Smith

I am a beau in nothing but my books. – Adam Smith

On the road from the City of Skepticism, I had to pass through the Valley of Ambiguity. – Adam Smith

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

The liberal reward of labor, therefore, as it is the necessary effect, so it is the natural symptom of increasing national wealth. The scanty maintenance of the laboring poor, on the other hand, is the natural symptom that things are at a stand, and their starving condition that they going backwards fast. – Adam Smith

When we have read a book or poem so often that we can no longer find any amusement in reading it by ourselves, we can still take pleasure in reading it to a companion. To him it has all the graces of novelty. – Adam Smith

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