Keynes: The Return of the Master

Keynes: The Return of the Master

3.6 8
by Robert Skidelsky

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In the debris of the financial crash of 2008, the principles of John Maynard Keynes—that economic storms are a normal part of the market system, that governments need to step in and use fiscal ammunition to prevent these storms from becoming depressions, and that societies that value the pursuit of money should reprioritize—are more pertinent and applicable…  See more details below


In the debris of the financial crash of 2008, the principles of John Maynard Keynes—that economic storms are a normal part of the market system, that governments need to step in and use fiscal ammunition to prevent these storms from becoming depressions, and that societies that value the pursuit of money should reprioritize—are more pertinent and applicable than ever. In Keynes: The Return of the Master, Robert Skidelsky brilliantly synthesizes Keynes career and life, and offers nervous capitalists a positive answer to the question we now face: When unbridled capitalism falters, is there an alternative?

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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Keynes: The Return of the Master 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
RolfDobelli More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Dont buy this book via the nook reader for iPod. B&n wouldn't provide the download and their customer service desk don't know what the problem could be.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
willyvan More than 1 year ago
Robert Skidelsky, Emeritus Professor of Political Economy at the University of Warwick and biographer of John Maynard Keynes, has written a brilliant little book. He shows how Keynes' ideas can help us to get out of the slump. He compares the effects of the Keynesian paradigm with the effects of Thatcherism: "the former had less unemployment, higher growth, lower exchange-rate volatility and lower inequality." Between 1951 and 1973 global GDP grew by 4.8 per cent a year; between 1980 and 2009, by 3.2 per cent. In Britain, GDP fell from 2.5 per cent to 2.1 per cent, while unemployment soared from 1.6 per cent to 7.4 per cent. Skidelsky writes, "Keynes (like Anthony Crosland in the 1950s) thought that managerial control of large corporations would expand their 'public motives'. He did not foresee the explosion of the bonus culture, which would give managers incentives to rip off both shareholders and the wider public." Capitalism grows less, not more, public-spirited, as bankers grow more rent-seeking and free-riding. Printing more money will not bring recovery; we need 'government action to increase aggregate spending', not cuts. As the author notes, "Experience of Japan's great recession of the 1990s confirms that if the private sector is de-leveraging - reducing spending to reduce its debts - then public sector de-leveraging - cutting its deficit - will deepen, not lighten, recession." Britain's investment is now 25 per cent down from pre-slump levels. Keynes wrote aptly, "a somewhat comprehensive socialisation of investment will prove the only means of securing an approximation to full employment." But he did not ask how we could do this when Britain's 'politically dominant financial sector' used 'state power to promote financial interests'. Skidelsky sums up that we need to tame finance (as the Glass-Steagall act of 1933 did) by splitting commercial from investment banking; we need high public spending for full employment; we need 'a government-backed infrastructure bank', 'more equitable distribution of wealth and incomes', 'control of hot money flows' and protection of our industries. (As Keynes observed, it is better to produce cars inefficiently than to produce nothing at all.)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
PatrickKeeley More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago