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Keynes: The Return of the Master Paperback – 30 Sep 2010

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (30 Sept. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141043601
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141043609
  • Product Dimensions: 13.3 x 1.9 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 6,721 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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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." --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Robert Skidelsky is Emeritus Professor of Political Economy at the University of Warwick. His three volume biography of the economist John Maynard Keynes (1983, 1992, 2000) received numerous prizes, including the Lionel Gelber Prize for International Relations and the Council on Foreign Relations Prize for International Relations. ('This three-volume life of the British economist should be given a Nobel Prize for History if there was such a thing' - Norman Stone.) He is the author of the The World After Communism (1995). He was made a life peer in 1991, and was elected Fellow of the British Academy in 1994.

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34 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Geoff Crocker on 16 Nov. 2010
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Robert Skidelsky is right : we need to restore Keynesian economics to the current debate. Lord Skidelsky has contributed immensely with his monumental three volume biography of Keynes (`Hopes Betrayed', `The Economist as Saviour', and `Fighting for Freedom'). In this shorter book he summarises aspects of Keynes' economic theory. He attacks neo-classical economic theory's assumptions of rational expectations, real business cycle theory, and efficient market theory. He highlights inescapable, irreducible uncertainty as the key Keynesian diagnostic of economic behaviour, leading to Keynes' theory of `Liquidity Preference' whereby actors hold money to allay uncertainty, and thus reduce effective demand, leading to macroeconomic recession. He correctly points out that philosophically this diagnostic of irreducible uncertainty challenges the established Newtonian paradigm.

But more importantly he argues the practical superiority of Keynes over monetarist economics. As an economic historian, Skidelsky does this in his core chapter 5 by seeking to demonstrate that the global economy performed better under the Keynesian Bretton Woods period of 1951 to 1973, than under the monetarist free market `Washington Consensus' which replaced it. At this point Skidelsky's admitted lack of economic training and of the mathematical skills he too easily derides weakens his point. He interprets the graph on page 117 of world real GDP growth as two points of high average growth under Bretton Woods and low average growth under the Washington Consensus. A visual and econometric best line fit of this data would show a growth line declining from 1960 to 1985 and then rising, which would undermine this particular aspect of Skidelsky's argument.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By os TOP 500 REVIEWER on 4 Oct. 2011
Format: Paperback
Think of the current recession as the mother of all hangovers. The World economy has been partying insanely for the best part of a decade - busily borrowing, spending, investing and speculating without real regard to what economists like to call 'the fundamentals'. In other words by failing to address the risk attached to a given activity in relation to a possible return; institutions and individuals have spent money to no good purpose whilst at the same time racking up huge debts. Hence the big headache the morning after the debauchery the night before.

So, governments, businesses and me if not you, have been binging on cheap credit. Eventually, the party has to stop when the money runs out. The waiter of doom presents his bill. Governments who have run big budget deficits have racked up massive interest charges on loans face huge problems as do the citizens in their care. Governments like Greece are faced with debt default, firing civil servants, begging from the European Central Bank or World Bank, cutting back on services and raising taxes. Their citizens are faced with higher unemployment, wage cuts, inflation and failing public services. Businesses find profit margins squeezed reduced sales revenues and rising input costs. It's a big mess and possibly it's going to get messier before much longer. But what to do about it?

After a period of heavy indulgence its fairly normal for the patient to go on a diet - lose a bit of weight and generally reform previous bad behaviour, at least for a while, until normal vigour is restored. 'Keynes -Return of the Master' is a detailed analysis of why the market cannot be left to itself to clear the debris up the morning after the economics party is over.
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful By DigiTAL on 21 Feb. 2011
Format: Paperback
Given that macroeconomists have been thinking about the world's economy since the late eighteenth century, an impartial observer could be forgiven for assuming that the field had reached some kind of a consensus in over 200 years.

They couldn't be more wrong.

The twentieth century saw a great tug-of-war between two separate schools of thought. In the blue corner, stand the economists who see the economy as a well oiled machine, instantly responding to exogenous shocks by reaching a new satisfactory equilibrium -- the classical economists and their latter day equivalent, the rational expectations crowd and real business cycle theorists.

In the red corner, stand Keynes and his myriad followers. When puzzling over the Great Depression, Keynes created a new model of macroeconomics: which stressed the imperfections and frictions in the economic machine that could keep the economy in an unsatisfactory rut for years. These frictions allowed for a role for government: to expand the money supply, cut taxes, and increase spending in the face of recession. Much of this has become modern-day common sense policy, but he was opposed by President Hoover in the U.S., and the British Treasury who insisted that a balanced government budget laid the best foundations for growth.

Sounds familiar?

Robert Skidelsky traces out this theoretical tug-of-war, and explains how the current crisis calls for, "Keynes: The Return of the Master". He also explains how this war was an overtly political one. The modern day economists who wanted to overturn Keynes were mostly conservatives with an innate distrust of government.
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