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Keynes Hayek: The Clash That Defined Modern Economics Paperback – 24 Aug 2012


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Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; Reprint edition (24 Aug 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393343634
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393343632
  • Product Dimensions: 1.4 x 0.3 x 2.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 34,247 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"In Keynes Hayek Nicholas Wapshott sets himself the formidable task of explaining important and abstruse ideas clearly, reliably and entertainingly. He succeeds well." The Times "It [Keynes Hayek] harnesses the author's skills as a journalist in a lucid and accessible introduction to Hayek's work...Again, the author has done his homework in getting on top of the vast literature about Keynes..." The Guardian "...path-breaking account of the long intellectual duel between Friedrich Hayek and Keynes..." New Statesman "Nicholas Wapshott's Keynes Hayek is an ambitious, well-written and enjoyable attempt to grapple with fundamental debates about economic and social organization. It is an entertaining account of the work of two powerful thinkers who made lasting contributions to those debates." Tim Congdon, Times Literary Supplement "He [Wapshott] is an acomplished writer who drives his narrative at a pace and draws judiciously on a crowded shelf of studies of his protagonists and their work...fascinating reading..." The Literary Review "His [Nicholas Wapshott's] account of the origins and early application of the competing theories is readable, intelligent, and even-handed." Reuters "I heartily recommend Nicholas Wapshott's new book, Keynes Hayek: The Clash that Defined Modern Economics... Many books have been written about Keynes, but nobody else has told the story properly of his relationship with Hayek. Nick has filled the gap in splendid fashion, and I defy anybody - Keynesian, Hayekian, or uncommitted - to read his work and not learn something new." John Cassidy, The New Yorker "Wapshott does a good job of explaining the duo's sometimes complex theories...Overall, it's well worth a read." Money Week "...an enjoyable and clear read..." --The Business Economist

About the Author

A former senior editor at The Times and The New York Sun, Nicholas Wapshott is a journalist and the author of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher: A Political Marriage.

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38 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Mr. M. Russell on 22 Dec 2011
Format: Kindle Edition
The book tries to suggest that the whole of economic agrument on policy falls into two camps. Austrian and Keynesian. This is simplistic and misleading. However the idea of seeing the debate on policy from the two camps is interesting and entertaining.

The book lacks depth of explanation of either Keynes or Austrian theory. This means that anyone who does not already know them (and by this I mean what Keynes wrote, not what Keynesians wrote after his death) will find the significance of many of the comments reported from the debate difficult to understand properly.

The author also fails to consider the complexity of the various schools of economics. While he explains that Keynes successfully introduced the idea of looking at the economy from 'the top down' - macroeconomics - he does not clearly explain the reliance of Keynes on the demand side alone. Consequently he misses an important aspect of the criticism of Keynes in terms of markets and understates the important move to reconsider the supply side as a policy issue. Instead the author seems to think it is part of the monetarist counter-revolution, which it is not.

But perhaps the most disappointing aspect of the book is the sloppy mistakes. The author attributes views to people they never had in broad generalizations and makes mistakes on dates and people. For example, getting the date of Margaret Thatcher becoming Prime Minister wrong, which was not the same day as Hayek's birthday as he claims (a month and four days out respectively), and making Ben Bernanke Chairman of the Fed on Friedman's 90th birthday, over three years before he actually got the job! Such mistakes makes one wonder how many other inaccuracies got past the proof readers and has devalued the entire work.
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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful By William Podmore on 4 Sep 2012
Format: Hardcover
This fine book is easy to read and very well-written. It tells the gripping story of the conflict between Friedrich Hayek and John Maynard Keynes.

Hayek, who never worked in the private sector he idolised, started from the idealist assumption that "to explain any economic phenomenon it was convenient to assume that over time an economy would reach a state of equilibrium in which all resources would be fully employed." He did not have to prove it, since it was an assumption, but he then treated it as true of the real world.

By contrast, Keynes started from the real world, where "It is a complete mistake to believe that there is a dilemma between schemes for increasing employment and schemes for balancing the Budget - that we must go slowly and cautiously with the former for fear of injuring the latter. Quite the contrary. There is no possibility of balancing the Budget except by increasing the national income, which is much the same thing as increasing employment."

In their debate in the 1940s, Hayek admitted in The road to serfdom that "the case for the state's helping to organize a comprehensive system of social insurance is very strong." Keynes pounced, "as soon as you admit that the extreme is not possible, and that a line has to be drawn, you are, on your own argument, done for, since you are trying to persuade us that so soon as one moves an inch in the planned direction you are necessarily launched on the slippery path which will lead you in due course over the precipice." Wapshott comments, "Hayek did not attempt to answer the points raised in Keynes' letter ..."

Further, it is not undemocratic to plan if democratically-elected governments follow a people's desire for planning, as we do with our NHS.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book has lots to recommend itself to the general reader with an interest in modern history, politics and economics. The author does a wonderful job of explaining how the Keynes and Hayeks views on how an economy works/should work differed and gives a brief summary of their earlier lives that suggests how, to some extent these views were conditioned by their experience of things like war and economic depression earlier in their lives. I found it really informative of how (in Europe and the USA anyway) the political left and right have been divided, post-WWII along Keynesian and Hayekian economic lines.
There's also a lovely treatment of their clashes in economic and academic publications - it's really well written so that you get a sense of the passion and emotion behind their letters and publications even though they're couched in very academic and measured terms. Can't recommend this book highly enough.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
An excellent account of the differences between Keynes and Hayek. A blow by blow account of their interactions and a most readable delivery of their economic policies. A good read for anyone interested in economic theory. Very informative.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Europa on 30 Jan 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Keynes and Hayek got to know each other well, and had many of the most
basic ideas about economics in common. How they argued and failed to
resolve their differences is a tale well told by this skilled storyteller.

I couldn't put it down, not many books about economics have that effect, except perhaps on economists! The book also bridges the gap between academic economic thought, and it's application by politicians in desperate times.

There is a vast cast of characters involved in both men's lives, most
especially in Keynes, who was part of fashionable literary and artistic cliques, whose investments he looked after, which allowed them to be free from the constraints of earning a living.

I felt in the end enormous respect for both Keynes and Hayek as men, and for their professional commitment and courage, both in their working and in their personal lives.

Don't look at the ending, it will have much more punch if you wait till you get there.

Is the conclusion justified? Well, that's your call.
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