Tuesday, September 4, 2007

John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946)

Sierra Club


The best way to destroy the capitalist system is to debauch the currency. By a continuing process of inflation, governments can confiscate, secretly and unobserved, an important part of the wealth of their citizens.


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John Maynard Keynes (June 51883 - April 211946), English economist. John Maynard Keynes was a significant and radical economist whose ideas had a major impact on economic and political thought. He is particularly remembered for advocating interventionist government policy, by which the government would use fiscal and monetary measures to aim to mitigate the adverse effects of economics recessions and booms. His ideas have been further developed by the school of Keynesian economics.

Life and works

Keynes graduated in mathematics from Cambridge University, and afterwards increasingly turned his attention to economics. An advisor to the British government during World War 1, he first came to public prominence with the publication of The Economic Consequences of the Peace, published after the end of the war in 1919. This argued that the reparations which Germany was forced to pay to the victors in the war were too large and would lead to the ruin of the German economy. These predictions were arguably borne out when the German economy collapsed in the Hyperinflation of 1923, with only a small amount of reparations ever being paid. Keynes also published his Treatise on Probability in 1920, a notable contribution to the philosophical and mathematical underpinnings of probability theory.

His seminal book, The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money was first published in 1936. In this book Keynes put forward a theory based upon the notion of aggregate demand to explain variations in the overall level of economic activity, such as were observed in the great depression. The book advocated activist economic policy by governement to stimulate demand in times of unemployment, for example by spending on public works. The book is often viewed as the foundation of modern macroeconomics.

During the World War 2, Keynes argued in How to pay for the war that the war effort should be largely financed by higher taxation, rather than deficit spending, in order to avoid Inflation. Following the war, Keynes argued in favour of a radical system for the management of currencies, involving a central bank for the world and a common unit of currency, the "Bancor". [This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License and uses material adapted in whole or in part from the Wikipedia article on John Maynard Keynes.]

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