Reinhard Schumacher, HOPE Center Fellow, 2014-15

 

I sit down with Reinhard Schumacher over coffee in the Von der Heyden Pavilion on Duke’s West Campus and vaguely bring up the Major League Baseball game he saw when he visited the United States in 2001.

“The White Sox beat the Tigers 9-6, in ten innings,” he reports with perfect clarity. “It ended with a homerun.”

Nothing seems lost on this young scholar, who studies Adam Smith and whose 2012 article on Smith’s theory of international trade won the 2013 Mark Blaug Prize in Philosophy and Economics.

Reinhard, who is a PhD student at the University of Potsdam, first read Smith when he was writing his master’s thesis on international trade. He enjoyed reading The Wealth of Nations and The Theory of Moral Sentiments. But when he began reading the secondary literature on Smith, he noticed something odd.

“The Smith presented in the literature was not the Smith I saw in his two great works.”

In particular, he did not find in Smith the so-called vent-for-surplus theory, a theory that most scholars attribute to Smith.

“The notion that a developing country’s resources will become fully employed owing to international demand—it’s just not there in Smith,” Reinhard contends. He is writing an article dealing with that issue.

During his time at the Center, Reinhard will continue writing his PhD thesis, which deals with Smith’s understanding of foreign trade and economic progress. He is also examining how succeeding economists have treated and presented Smith’s theories.

Before he began his fellowship in September, Reinhard spent the month of August participating in the Center’s Summer in the Archives program. He continued the work of sorting and organizing the papers of Karl Menger, the mathematician whose father was Carl Menger, one of the founders of neoclassical economics.

The papers of both Mengers are part of the Economists’ Papers Project, housed in the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Duke University.

In his spare time Reinhard has been exploring Durham on his bike, cycling along country roads and the American Tobacco Trail.

He will return to Potsdam in December.

--Paul Dudenhefer