Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Good article on John Maynard Keynes

with 4 comments

Well worth reading (or listening to). Thanks to TYD for pointing it out. It begins:

Keynes, a British economist who died more than 60 years ago, inspired President Barack Obama’s plan to save the U.S. economy with a massive round of government spending. The British economist published his big theory, the one underpinning most of what Obama intends to do, in 1936.

By the 1980s, many believed Keynes’ ideas were utterly discredited. But he is the man who came up with the then-radical notion that a government can pull a country out of a deep recession by spending a lot.

Many would argue that Keynes’ 73-year-old theory is being tested, right now, for the very first time. One Keynes biographer, Lord Robert Skidelsky, portrays Keynes as a fascinating figure, equal parts genius and jerk. Keynes ran with the Bloomsbury Group, which included painters and writers such as Virginia Woolf. The Bloomsbury crowd was known for free love and raunchy language, but even they complained in letters to each other that Keynes was too dirty for them.

Keynes could be just as shocking when it came to academic theory, sounding like a socialist one moment and fanatically defending free markets the next…

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

31 January 2009 at 8:18 am

4 Responses

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  1. Ha. I blogged this yesterday, much to the irritation of my conservative readers.

    scottfeldstein

    31 January 2009 at 8:23 am

  2. For those impatient with Keynes very complicated thesis Martin Seymour-Smith summarizes it : “ …in times of prosperity governments should raise taxes and lower spending power, in recessions, though, they should do the opposite.” Exactly what taxes to lower in a recession would seem to be a key question.

    No unqualified lover of capitalism, Keynes, according to Joan Robinson, saw that “the misery of being exploited by capitalists is nothing to the misery of not being exploited at all.”

    Bob Slaughter

    31 January 2009 at 9:09 am

  3. Seymour-Smith’s description reminds me of Neil Postman’s view of the role of schools: when the overall culture is conservative, schools should focus on teaching creativity and innovation; when the culture is innovative and creating much that is new, education should focus on the teachings of tradition—the school is a counterbalance to the prevailing sentiment.

    LeisureGuy

    31 January 2009 at 12:39 pm

  4. Good observation. A little of this type of counterbalance may be useful elsewhere, such as during the recent criminal financial bubble.

    As to the Keynesean effects of spending, my wife poins out a discouraging thought – infrastructure spending is going to be diluted by the fact that materials and equipment are going to have a large overseas component in the present globalized economy.

    Bob Slaughter

    31 January 2009 at 3:15 pm


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