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Adam Smith and Sayyid Qutb: A comparison of two different worldviews

By Kehaan Manjee

The West and Militant Islam have been in conflict with each other because of their different worldviews. Adam Smith and Sayyid Qutb have arguably had tremendous influence on these worldviews i.e. capitalism and Islamic state. Both thinkers provided their prescriptions to improve the condition of their societies, and analyzing these prescriptions helps us understand the differences in these worldviews. I have compared and contrasted their socioeconomic theories, using these two thinkers as proxies for the West and Militant Islam. I have specifically analyzed their prescriptions on three issues: economic inequality, taxation and interest.  These key issues provide an insight into the views of the two scholars, and through that, the conflicting worldviews of the West and Militant Islam. On economic inequality, Smith believed that his economic system of natural liberty would lead to universal opulence; in contrast, Qutb argued that only an Islamic system of government could reduce the gap between the rich and the poor. Both thinkers supported taxation: Smith wanted to use it to finance the provision of public goods, security and justice; while Qutb not only wanted to use it to finance government services, but also viewed taxation as a tool for redistribution of wealth in the society. Smith and Qutb disagreed on the issue of interest: Smith supported interestbearing lending, but argued for the imposition of a ceiling on interest rates; on the contrary, Qutb wanted an outright prohibition on all forms of interest on creditThese similarities and differences in their prescriptions on various issues provide insight inttheir vision for society. Since their vision and objectives are differentthey have competing worldviews, which explains the conflict between the West and Militant Islam. 

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Advisor: Neil De Marchi | JEL Codes: B10, B12, B15, B31, N00 | Tagged: Adam Smith, Capitalism, Different Worldviews, Islamic State, Sayyid Qutb

Optimal Ordering in Sequential English Auctions: A Revenue-Comparison Model for 18th Century Art Auctions in London and Paris

By Amaan Mitha

We develop a model based on several auction parameters to test the widely held notion that in a sequential English auction, it is optimal for the seller to arrange the lots in order of decreasing value. We test this model against two datasets of 18th century auctions, one of various auctions from Paris and the other from Christie’s sales in London. We find that the Paris data support the claim, while the Christie’s data seem to refute the optimal strategy. We also find a rationale for bidders in the Christie’s auctions to alter their strategies, accounting for the discrepancy.

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Advisor: Neil De Marchi | JEL Codes: D4, Z11 | Tagged: Auctions, English Auction, Lot Ordering, Optimal Auction Strategy, Sequential Auctions

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