The Wealth of Nations is Smith's most famous work, and is one of the foundational texts in economics. In the course of his extensive and thorough critique of mercantilist policies that tie together economic and political processes and power, Smith formulates important theoretical insights about the role of specialization in increasing productivity and income, market prices and their adjustments, labor and capital as complements in production, domestic and foreign trade as mutually beneficial value-creating processes, and the role of government in providing defense, enforcing (negative) justice, and providing infrastructure that increases the extent of the market and enables general basic education.

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