Emma Rothschild, 4 June 1981
Times are dire for economists in America. The country is preoccupied with its economic misfortunes. Yet the most esteemed theorist of economic recovery seems to be the early 19th-century French populariser of Adam Smith known to Marx as ‘the inane Jean-Baptiste Say … [who] refutes himself again’. The most successful recent guide to the economy – a work called Wealth and Poverty, described by the Republican Director of the Office of Management and Budget as ‘Promethean in its intellectual power and insight’ – explains (with the required obeisance to Say) that slow economic growth is to be understood in terms of faith, the modesty of female sexuality and the ‘dominance of single and separated men in poor communities’.