Keynes’s General Theory for Today

Keynes’s General Theory for Today

Contemporary Perspectives

Edited by Jesper Jespersen and Mogens Ove Madsen

The themes of this important new volume were chosen to mark the 75th anniversary of the publication of The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money. The distinguished authors concentrate on the relevance of this seminal publication for macroeconomic theory, method and the politics of today. This is particularly pertinent as similarities with the 1930s are striking in terms of unemployment, low growth, financial fragility and the European monetary union resembling the gold standard.

Introduction

Jesper Jespersen and Mogens Ove Madsen

Subjects: economics and finance, history of economic thought, post-keynesian economics

Extract

In 2011 it was 75 years since the publication of The General Theory of Employment Interest and Money. It was published on 4 February 1936 in the middle of the economic depression. Politicians were groping in the dark with rather little help from the economic profession. People were queuing to buy the book as soon as it was released. Expectations were high. There are many similarities between then and now: unemployment, low growth and mounting public debt. Unfortunately, no new ‘General Theory’ has been advertised, which may be a reason for a re-read and an up-dated reflection on Keynes’s seminal book. At the brink of the 21st century a number of academic economists were asked which economist they considered had had the largest impact in the 20th century. A majority pointed at Keynes, many with reference to The General Theory; but this voting was about the past. Today one hardly sees a reference to Keynes in the most-used macroeconomic textbooks – perhaps a passing remark related to the case of rigid wages in the labour market (which only demonstrates that the author has not read The General Theory). That is all. How can that be? Given the number of similarities between the economic crisis of the 1930s and the recent one, we considered this an obvious reason to gather Keynes-scholars from all over the world to discuss and exchange views on the ‘relevance and perspectives’ of The General Theory for this century.