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The Collected Writings of John Maynard Keynes: Volume 7 Paperback – 8 Nov 2012

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Product details

  • Paperback: 451 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; Reprint edition (8 Nov. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1107673739
  • ISBN-13: 978-1107673731
  • Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 2.4 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,466,118 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Paul on 13 Aug. 2013
Format: Paperback
After more than 75 years, Keynes' General Theory still manages to excite. The reader can follow Keynes in his 'discovery' that would profoundly change the field of Economics. This is absolutely required reading to every economist. However, people with no more than a passing interest better spend their time on other books. It was considered to be difficult to grasp even by economists when it was published, and 75 years passing haven't made this work any easier to read or understand, even with a strong knowledge of modern macroeconomics and some background knowledge of Keynes.
In that view, it is a shame this edition doesn't include a generous introduction that highlights some of the most important conclusions that can be drawn from General Theory, preferably with the help of some figures which would greatly simplify the theory, as economists immediately attempted to do after its first publication. Alternatively, a selection of such contemporary writings on Keynes may suffice.

The only other note of criticism I have is its unreadable layout of the introduction and prefaces (this edition includes Keynes' preface to the original as well as to the German, French and Japanese editions, which however differ little). Somehow I lost attention halfway through every line. Fortunately, the layout of General Theory is much better and has been chosen so that the text matches the pagination of the original. I have yet to come across any printing errors.

Apart from the General Theory itself (which is 384 pages long), the four prefaces and a general and editorial introduction (of only 8 pages), this edition includes the articles Fluctuations in Net Investment in the United States and Relative Movements of Real Wages and Output and a rather complete index. To anyone who wants to read Keynes' General Theory, this is the version to get.
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68 of 135 people found the following review helpful
The savior of "capitalism" or corporatist liberalism? 4 Feb. 2004
By David H Miller - Published on
Format: Paperback
I read Keynes' "General Theory" as a high-school sophomore in 1970. Even as a high-school student, I was able to see the central analytical error.
The key Keynesian argument is that there can be an imbalance between savings and investment: savers may try to save more than they invest, in effect taking money out of circulation and thereby throwing the economy into depression.
Of course, they have to do something with this money, presumably holding it as cash in some form. Therefore, if you follow through the analysis to the end, Keynes is saying that people are trying to hold more cash than is available: the demand of savers to hold savings in cash rather than as investments is what causes depressions.
Keynes and his followers accept this conclusion: the term which came to be used was that there was a "liquidity trap," the desire to hold more cash ("liquidity") than was actually supplied in the economy is what produces depressions.
However, as soon as the matter is phrased in terms of an imbalance between the supply and demand of money, anyone who passed economics 101 should remember that market economies are _very_ good at equilibrating supply and demand. If the current demand for a good is too high, then the current market value is too low, and a rise in the market value of that commodity will solve the problem.
It works for money, too. A rise in the value of money is called "price deflation," and economists have known for centuries that price deflation does indeed naturally occur in depressions. As the general price level falls, the existing supply of money becomes more valuable -- in effect, the real supply of money becomes greater. It becomes more tempting to spend one's cash on now cheaper goods or investments. Price deflation, if allowed to occur by governments, cures liquidity traps.
I figured this out for myself as a high-school student (there is an alternative but equivalent analysis based on "dimensional analysis" which, as a budding physicist, I found especially cogent).
I was not of course the first to work this out: even _before_ Keynes published the "General Theory," the British economist A. C. Pigou had worked through this analysis and the matter is often therefore referred to as the "Pigou effect." Since Pigou, various eminent economists have worked out the mechanism in great detail with careful mathematical analyses, but the basic idea is freshman economics. When I entered college, I found out that the advanced graduate-level "macro" books did indeed let the secret out that Keynes' analysis was wrong. It was only undergrads, politicians, and the general public that were expected to believe the Keynesian fallacy.
So why the decades of lying?
Just as the Communist governments of the old Soviet empire needed Karl Marx's goofy economics theories and laughable philosophical scribblings in order to prop up their own corrupt regimes, so also the rising mid-twentieth-century predatory military-university-government-industrial complex in Western nations needed an ideology to justify the corporatist-socialist regimes it was creating.
Keynes' prescriptions for monetary inflation, deficit spending, rejection of the gold standard, and high levels of government spending and taxation were tailor-made for the democratic-socialist welfare/warfare states then being erected in various Western nations.
As corporate liberals are so fond of saying, Keynes did indeed "save capitalism" if by "capitalism" one means not free-market capitalism but rather the corrupt crony capitalism under which we now all live.
Keynes himself knew this of course. The infamous statement he made in the introduction to the German translation of the "General Theory" ("theory of aggregate production, which is the point of the following book, nevertheless can be much easier adapted to the conditions of a totalitarian state than the theory of production and distribution of a given production put forth under conditions of free competition and a large degree of laissez-faire") obviously does not prove that Keynes was sympathetic to Nazism. But it does show that Keynes rightly recognized that his proposals were of great potential value for the oppressive political regimes that were being created during the twentieth century.
Even though Keynesian theories are now intellectually discredited "flat-earth" economics, they live on because they serve a political need. Even conservative politicians nowadays often spout Keynesian nostrums ("stimulating demand" via tax cuts or monetary growth) rather than make the painful acknowledgement that it is the corporate-socialist economic system under which we live which is the problem.
No regime lasts forever. Eventually, the present corporatist-collectivist regime will collapse, probably when the majority of the human race figures out how to free itself from the current American geopolitical hegemony. At that point, Keynes will be universally viewed as the economically incompetent charlatan that he actually was.
(For a more detailed analysis of the Keynesian system, I recommend Henry Hazlitt's classic "Failure of the New Economics" and the collection of critical essays Hazlitt edited, "Critics of Keynesian Economics." For an analysis that goes beyond Keynes in analyzing the process which causes the initial imbalance in the investment sector and the resulting liquidity crisis, see Murray Rothbard's "America's Great Depression." Keynes purported to believe that the triggering forces of the investment crisis were irrational and inexplicable "animal spirits." Rothbard shows that, on the contrary, these forces can be rationally explained and understood: in essence, it is incompetent financial policy, of the sort Alan Greenspan has provided in the last decade, which causes economic crises. Milton Friedman's and Anna Schwartz's famed "The Great Contraction" focuses solely on the monetary aspects of the Great Depression, thereby missing the causative process in the investment sector.)
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