What Would Adam Smith Say?

Sure, he trusted free markets. But the philosopher might have supported regulation too

Illustration by Harry Campbell for TIME

You know Adam Smith for his "invisible hand," the mysterious force that steers the selfish economic decisions of individuals toward a result that leaves us all better off. It's been a hugely influential idea, one that during the last few decades of the 20th century began to take on the trappings of a universal truth.

Lately, though, the invisible hand has been getting slapped. The selfish economic decisions of home buyers, mortgage brokers, investment bankers and institutional investors over the past decade clearly did not leave us all better off. Did Smith have it wrong?

No, Smith did not have it...

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