Invisible Hand

 

Adam Smith, a philosopher and economist of the 18th century, said that the market may appear chaotic but is actually guided by an invisible hand. The aggregation of individual self-interest activities (or choices) was believed to result in the economic growth of the whole society. Thanks to the IT revolution, we become able to compare commodities more quickly and widely. In other words, our self-interest purchasing choices must be more accurate, and accordingly our society must get more rational economically at least.

As the last sentence of the first paragraph implies, I don’t wholeheartedly celebrate the invisible hand gaining more power due to the IT revolution. Indeed, we consumers become able to make more rational choices because products, producers, sellers, etc. surviving at this moment are the ones that have passed market valuation more and more severe by the IT revolution. I have to admit the value of marketability, but even among things that have disappeared from the market, there are some that I really miss.

I know we should live with the consequences led by an invisible hand because it’s just like majority decision. At the same time, we should recognize our huge responsibility because such consequences (changes) are basically irreversible. Many people might think “If need be, we can get back things that disappeared, more easily with the latest technology,” which should be technology-wise correct but not market-wise. For example, I really like the thick coconut-fiber seats of old Mercedes-Benz, but I’m sure such a complex (costly) structure will never be adopted again (I know it’s not majority but enthusiasts like me who want it, though). Once something disappears from the market, we will lose it forever. 

Our industry (premium wooden furniture manufacture) is shrinking under pressure from mass-produced cheap furniture manufacture. We don’t intend to give up, saying like “it’s a consequence led by an invisible hand,” because we believe our products are worth handing over to the next generations.

By Shungo Ijima 2020/09/07


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