Munich Personal RePEc Archive

Wealth

Meacci, Ferdinando (1998): Wealth. Published in: The Elgar Companion to Classical Economics , Vol. 2, (1998): pp. 535-541.

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Abstract

This paper is focused on the notion of wealth as used by different authors in different periods of time. The paper deals with the contrast between the notion of wealth shared by all major classical economists, particularly by Adam Smith, and the notion previously held by the Mercantilists (by which one nation’s gain is intended as another nation’s loss) or subsequently held by Irving Fisher and other Neoclassical economists(whereby the wealth of an individual is brought to centre stage in lieu of the wealth of society). After distinguishing, in Say’s footsteps, between “richesses naturelles” (the use values given by nature) and “richesses sociales” (the use values produced and reproduced by labour), the paper focuses on the classical notion of wealth as “richesses sociales” (the wealth of nations) and, more particularly, as the flow of final goods available in a period (and made possible by using up the intermediate goods inherited from a previous period) rather than the stock, however formed, of instrumental goods (let alone the value of this stock) owned by individuals at an instant of time (assets).

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