Keynes: The Return of the Master

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Overview

"This is the worst global turndown since the Great Depression. But it is highly unlikely to be as bad. The years 1929-32 saw twelve successive quarters of economic contraction. If repeated, this would mean the economic slide will continue till mid-2011. But the present contraction will be neither as deep nor as long, and this for two reasons. First, the will to international cooperation is stronger. Second, we do have Keynes."

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Editorial Reviews

Carlos Lozada
Clearly, Skidelsky admires his subject—"universal curiosity"…"formidably intelligent"…"the most intuitive of economists" are a few of his descriptions—but his new book is less about Keynes the man than about the battle of ideas that Keynes and his followers fought and lost during the 20th century. It is also, implicitly, about an issue at the heart of all this soul-searching: How much influence do economists really exert over the real world? Do they drive the policies and preferences of our leaders, or are economists just a bunch of math nerds telling politicians what they want to hear? In short, do economists matter?
—The Washington Post
Dwight Garner
In Keynes: Return of the Master, Mr. Skidelsky surveys the vast body of Keynes's work. But he boils the thinking down to a few essential points. Central among them is that market economies are fundamentally uncertain; large shocks like the recent meltdown are not anomalies but normal if unpredictable events. Government should intervene in a crisis…supplying a judicious but firm hand on the tiller…This book is provocative in its discussion of the moral aspect of Keynes's thinking. He had the curious and refreshing idea that financial institutions have a duty to the public interest as well as to shareholders.
—The New York Times
Library Journal
These books bring 20th-century economist John Maynard Keynes into the current economic debate. During the 1930s, Keynes pioneered the concept of governments forcing interest rates low and using deficit spending to stimulate the moribund economy. The work by Clarke (modern history, ret., Cambridge Univ.; The Last Thousand Days of the British Empire) is the most biographical (though none is a true biography), following Keynes from his early life through his role in influencing economic policy during the Great Depression and World War II. Clarke explains Keynes's association with the Bloomsbury Group, his homosexuality, his investing prowess, and how he formulated his theories in response to the economic turbulence of his times. He shows how Keynes was able to change his mind and go in new directions and how he was able to reach out to governments in changing the economic landscape. This is a generally sympathetic portrayal, giving only brief space to Keynes's critics and using academic, but clear, language.\
From the Publisher
Foreign Affairs
“The book offers clear and cogent critiques of modern macroeconomic thought, along with a brief but useful summary of what went wrong in 2007-9.”

Financial Times, October 18, 2010
“Skidelsky’s succinct, lively, unashamed paean analyses Keynes’s core values and offers a persuasive pitch for the contemporary relevance (and necessity) of his ideas.”

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781586488277
  • Publisher: PublicAffairs
  • Publication date: 9/15/2009
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.40 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

About the Author:
Robert Skidelsky is Professor of Political Economy at Warwick and a member of the House of Lords.

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Table of Contents

Abbreviations
Introduction: The man and economist 1
1 The life 13
2 Keynes's philosophy of practice 34
3 The monetary reformer 49
4 The General Theory 70
5 Economic statesmanship 91
6 Keynes's legacy 106
References 129
Further reading 132
Index 134
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 9 of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 12, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Scholarly argument for a return to Keynesian economics

    The modern recession casts doubt on many long-held economic beliefs, in particular, the validity of free markets. Unable to agree on causes or remedies, economists look on as politicians try various kinds of stimulus spending and corporate bailouts. Pundits call forth the ghost of John Maynard Keynes, often incorrectly labeled as a has-been socialist and tax-and-spend liberal. But Robert Skidelsky, Keynes' biographer and a noted expert on the economist and his work, reveals how Keynes' pre-World War II experiences shaped an economic worldview that still holds lessons for the 21st century. This scholarly book assumes that the reader has more than a nodding acquaintance with modern economic theory and philosophy, yet Skidelsky also injects literary references and sparks of wit that enliven the sometimes-challenging text. getAbstract suggests this abbreviated, but solid, look at Keynes to students of economic and political history, and to anyone who is trying to make sense of how the 2008 crisis happened and how to move forward.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 6, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Good introduction to Keynes

    This is a well written and interesting book. It is something of an appetizer in that it is short. I think it could have done with more technical insights. In that sense it is a little superficial. Worth reading but one is left wanting more.

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