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The Economic Consequences of the Peace Kindle Edition
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|Kindle Edition, 10 Jun 2015||
|Length: 173 pages||Word Wise: Enabled|
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Top Customer Reviews
In my judgement the key observations Keynes made in this book about the state of Europe in 1919 and about the Versailles Treaty were:
1. Not only Germany but also much of Europe (excluding Britain) was in a poor economic condition and would find recovery difficult.
2. One particular factor he noted was the existence of inflation and the danger of it continuing, worsening and damaging economies. He said the problem was serious throughout Europe and particularly Germany, which already had a large budget deficit.
3. The Treaty contributed nothing towards creating a fair, functioning and integrated economic system in Europe.
4. The Treaty breached the terms of the Armistice Agreement in the level of reparations and territorial adjustment, which was morally reprehensible. Germany had not surrendered unconditionally but was treated as though she had.
5. Germany could not possibly pay the full amount of reparations on given knowledge and all reasonable assumptions about the immediate economic future. In addition reparations were unfair in that unlike an indemnity the amount was unknown and unknowable.
6.Read more ›
But the negotiating politicians had absolutely no vision. Clemenceau wanted a Carthaginian peace, President Wilson was essentially a theologian and Lloyd George yielded to national electoral chicane.
The victors had no magnanimity. `The future life of Europe was not their concern; its means of livelihood was not their anxiety. Their preoccupations related to frontiers and nationalities, to imperial aggrandizements, to the future enfeeblement of a strong and dangerous enemy, to revenge and to the shifting of their unbearable financial burden on to the shoulders of the defeated.
But for Keynes, the policy of reducing Germany to servitude for a generation was abhorrent and detestable: `Nations are not authorized, by religion or natural morals, to visit on the children of their enemies the misdoings of parents or of rulers.'
Keynes had the decency to leave the negotiations from the moment he saw the looming disastrous results.
Keynes brilliantly calculated that Germany could not pay the imposed debt. He foresaw the coming German hyperinflation. He clearly recognized the danger of `a victory of reaction' (the right) in Germany, because it would endanger the security of Europe and the basis of peace.
Eventually that's what happened with all its disastrous consequences for Europe.
His prediction of millions of dead from starvation in Germany didn't occur.
This sometimes rather technical book is still a very worth-while read. His author was a visionary.
The Versailles treaty has a bad reputation in popular memory, especially British. While historians originally also tended to be critical, the last decades have seen a reassessment, and a recognition that the peacemakers faced an imperfect job no matter what, and could not magically solve the destruction and disorders wrecked by WWI. Some historians now even argue that the reparations were not punitive, and that Germany could afford to pay them. In my view this goes too far, and Keynes's book is quite convincing in this respect. The reparations total discussed in Keynes's book, $40 billion, was of the order of the total size of pre-war German GDP, perhaps more, and more than ten times total German exports. The amount eventually proposed by the Commission, while smaller at a nominal $31 billion, remained huge in proportion to the German economy. Entirely accessible to the layman, written with complete clarity, and short, this is essential reading for anyone with even a passing interest in history and the peace of 1919.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Candidates for high government office should be required to demonstrate their understanding of Keynes's analysis and conclusions. Read morePublished 19 days ago by RMF
A well-written explanation of how Allied politicians should have treated Germany at the end of WW1 and of how, alas, their short-term personal and national self-interests instead... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Gordon
A really interesting and eye-opening book by a man who was far, far more fascinating and interesting than I had ever expected. Read morePublished 13 months ago by G. C. Palmer
This is a useful book for anyone who, like me, is trying to get up to speed on economic science in order to understand the world's current parlous state. Read morePublished 18 months ago by Jane Bushby
A classic - brilliant exposition and analysis of the Versailles negotiations and intriguing cameo portraits.Published 23 months ago by William Jamieson
This should be compulsory reading in all schools even if it has to be truncated. It forecast the future war and is inherently supportive of the European Union.Published 24 months ago by Patrick O 'Sullivan
Absolutely staggering perception of the problems of the day, and turned round by understanding of the interwar years. Read morePublished on 12 May 2014 by jumac
Just as good as I remembered it; a classic text, with the eerie prediction of another war in 20 years, which came true. Read morePublished on 14 Mar. 2013 by Jonathan
A pretty dull read. Interesting from a historical perspective but as something to read in your leisure time I cannot reccomend it.Published on 13 Nov. 2011 by David Boyd