Amsterdam—the Economic City

Amsterdam is a city that almost shouts “economics.” Except people in the Netherlands are far too pleasant and polite to shout.

A recent trip to Amsterdam reminded me that, for an economist, it’s a special place. In the 1600s, something unique happened in the Netherlands. The Dutch began looking at merchants and other businesspeople with admiration rather than scorn. In her book, “Bourgeois Dignity,” Deirdre McCloskey says: “By adopting the respect for deal-making and innovation and the liberty to carry out the deals that Amsterdam and London pioneered around 1700, the modern world was born...

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