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Adam Smith on growth and credit – Too weak a connection?

Neil T. Skaggs (Department of Economics, Illinois State University, Illinois, USA)

Journal of Economic Studies

ISSN: 0144-3585

Article publication date: 1 December 1999



Adam Smith’s theory of economic growth, as presented in the Wealth of Nations, is based upon the potential for increasing returns in manufacturing generated by increased specialization and division of labour and upon the accumulation of real capital, which is necessary to support the greater division of labour. The increasing returns part of Smith’s theory leaves open the possibility that bank credit, issued judiciously, might be used to extend the market and so increase an economy’s growth rate. However, Smith’s theory of bank credit and note extension is quite conservative. Henry Dunning Macleod, a century after Smith, made much of the potential of credit to extend the market. Notes Smith’s apparent inconsistency and considers reasons why he might have chosen not to promote the use of credit to enhance economic growth.



Skaggs, N.T. (1999), "Adam Smith on growth and credit – Too weak a connection?", Journal of Economic Studies, Vol. 26 No. 6, pp. 481-496.




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