As the Great Recovery continues to lumber along, everyone in Washington is bickering over the legacy of John Maynard Keynes, but a much older economist has jumped onto our bestseller list: Adam Smith.
“The Wealth of Nations” — first published in 1776 — will appear at No. 4 on the Washington Post nonfiction paperback bestseller list this Sunday.
The Scottish philosopher died in 1790, but his insights on the rational behavior of markets established the foundations of modern economics. Why his classic book sold 400 copies last week in the Washington area is a bit of a mystery. It usually sells fewer than 10 copies a week. Nielsen BookScan, which collects this data for us, reports “some level of bulk sales.”
Mark Laframboise, the manager of Politics & Prose Bookstore in Northwest Washington, has seen no special interest in “The Wealth of Nations” recently. “I wonder if an organization bought a big bunch,” he says.
Perhaps it’s the work an “invisible hand.”
Or, as Keynes might say, “In the long run, we are all bestsellers.”