Monday, June 17, 2013

Keynes acquisitions and a good Keynes link

I stopped by the used bookstore on the way home and got two books:

1. Keynes and After, by Michael Stewart (1972) which looks like a retrospective on Keynes, his innovations, and his legacy from the early 1970s - a positive take on it all. Stewart was in Harold Wilson's Labour government, apparently.

2. Anticipations of the General Theory? And Other Essays On Keynes, by Don Patinkin (1980). This is based on lectures he gave at the University of Chicago. He is specifically exploring the question of what Keynes's central point was and whether it was a "simultaneous discovery" (he specifically considers the Stockholm School and Kalecki and concludes that in both cases it was not really a simultaneous discovery).

This is related, but I think not quite the same, as work that David Laidler has done. Laidler asks the question of whether the idea of the Keynesian revolution was "fabricated", looks at the interwar literature, and concludes it was. I consider that far too overwrought. Of course other people were thinking along similar lines - you can add Patinkin's cases of Lindahl, Myrdal, and Kalecki to that list too. In fact Keynes cites a bunch of them quite obligingly! I don't think you need to come up with an idea in a vacuum for it to be a legitimate revolution in thought or to give primacy to the scientific contributions of one person in particular.


Also, I wanted to draw attention to an interesting post by Eric Rauchway on the meeting between Keynes and Roosevelt in 1934. He concludes that Roosevelt was probably sharper than he let on and that the friction after the meeting resulted from the fact that Keynes was presenting what ought to be done and Roosevelt was concerned with what could be done. It's an interesting question. I don't know the political situation of the 1930s but it seems to me the real public outcry was over things like cartelization and direct intervention. Would more spending have really hit the same roadblocks? I don't know. There certainly wasn't the same objection ten years later. Circumstances were different, of course, but that's largely my point - a lot of what the public finds acceptable seems to me to be tied to how you define the problem and propose to address it.


  1. That post by Eric Rauchway was interesting, indeed. It helped correct some misimpressions I had, and the arguments he made sounded wholly plausible.

    Congratulations on your acquisitions of those books on John Maynard Keynes. Just for the record though Daniel, Dr. Michael Emmett Brady has reviewed both of those books on before. (Well, he reviewed an updated version of Michael Stewart's book, but perhaps what he has to say about Stewart's book still applies.) Have you seen either review before?

  2. Daniel are you familiar with a book by geoff tily called 'keynes betrayed'? i bought it a while ago and am about to start reading it. it looks pretty good.
    he wrtoe a paper for BIS that is based on the book


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