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.

Chapter 1: The General Theory: a neglected work?!

M.G. Hayes

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


The General Theory (Keynes 1936, hereafter GT) a neglected work? Am I joking? Few books have been subject to so much review, criticism and interpretation. Yet I suggest that its impact on modern economic theory, both neo-classical and post Keynesian, has in fact been minimal. This theoretical neglect has also limited Keynes’s impact on policy, other than as a poster boy for a traditional policy of public works which predated The General Theory. My aim in this lecture is to try to justify these claims. When I am not in Cambridge, I live just outside the border of an empire, appropriately enough for a post Keynesian economist. My home is just north of Hadrian’s Wall, the northern border of the Roman Empire. In a similar way, the wall surrounding the citadel of neo-classical economics is its methodology. Attempts to engage or challenge neo-classical economics by outsiders with different methodologies have been ignored or repelled. Conversely, when the imperial citizens have sought to colonize their neighbours, they have, despite their military discipline, met fierce resistance from the unruly painted tribes. Some of whom I see represented here in Roskilde . . . in this place that, fittingly, was never conquered by the Romans.

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