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Profile of Adam Smith Institute

ASI Key people

Its two long-standing directors, Dr Madsen Pirie and Dr Eamonn Butler, who were friends from St Andrews University, have recently been joined by a third, Tom Clougherty.

Basic philosophy

Although non-party, the Adam Smith Institute takes an avowedly free market and libertarian position. It puts  the case for free market capitalism, sound public finances and de-regulation.

More recently it has emphasised the case against the surveillance state and in support of traditional freedoms and the citizen's right to privacy and non-interference by officialdom.

The Institute reveres the memory of Adam Smith, the Scottish economist it is named after.  His likeness appears on their logo, and on a range of products from cufflinks to paperweights. There are even ASI hoodies bearing a graffiti-style version of their logo.

Recent achievements

The Institute spends time and attention nurturing its formidable youth wing with many school and university speeches, one-day school seminars on "The Open Society," and its popular Next Generation group receptions on the first Tuesday of the month.

Recent papers include The Recession: Causes and Cures in which it attributes the global crisis to politicians and central bankers, not to any failure of capitalism, and in Ten Economic Priorities it set out the steps needed to restore Britain's finances.  Its Re-energizing Britain told how future energy supplies could be assured, while its Regulatory Myopia pulled apart the FSA proposals on financial regulation.

Its "Power Lunches" held regularly in the mezzanine above its Great Smith Street offices are quite an institution, as 12-16 guests lunch on sandwiches, sushi and wine, and have no-holds-barred discussions with guests ranging from newspaper editors, academics, regulators and political leaders.

The ASI's air of irreverence and humour compared to other think tanks reflects their success in producing a lively blog - where they have been very much ahead of the pack starting earlier than the other think tanks and getting far more hits.

Statue unveiling Last year an ASI campaign achieved victory when a 20-foot high bronze statue of Adam Smith was erected on a prime site on Edinburgh's Royal Mile.

Approximate budget and number of staff

Currently the Institute has six full-time staff, plus usually two or three interns from America or gap year students.  Its budget is undisclosed but is still under well under £500,000 per annum, and its offices pretty small, but very centrally located in the heart of Westminster. 

Contact details


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