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Keynes: The Return of the Master


"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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Keynes: The Return of the Master

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"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

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.”

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.\
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781586488970
  • Publisher: PublicAffairs
  • Publication date: 10/26/2010
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 455,278
  • Product dimensions: 6.78 (w) x 11.28 (h) x 0.70 (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

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 all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 21, 2011

    Can't download

    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.

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  • Posted January 6, 2011

    I Also Recommend:

    Fine study of Keynes' ideas

    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.)

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