What’s Wrong with Keynesian Economic Theory?

What’s Wrong with Keynesian Economic Theory?

Edited by Steven Kates

Possibly the strangest phenomenon in all of economics is the absence of a long tradition of criticism focused on Keynesian economic theory. Keynesian demand management has been at the centre of some of the worst economic outcomes in history, from the great stagflation of the 1970s to the lost decade and more in Japan following the expenditure program of the 1990s. And once again, following the Global Financial Crisis, it is incontrovertible that no stimulus program in any part of the world has been a success, each one having been abandoned as conditions deteriorated under the weight of public sector spending. This book brings together some of the most vocal critics of Keynesian economics. Each author attempts to explain what is wrong with Keynesian theory in ways that can be understood by those seeking guidance on where to turn for a more accurate explanation of the business cycle and on what to do when recessions occur.

Chapter 7: The dangers of Keynesian economics

Steven Kates

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

Abstract

In sharp contrast to the private sector, where firms will go out of business if revenues do not cover costs, most government spending is not value-adding. That is not of itself an argument against public spending,but it is an argument against thinking that when governments spend they are necessarily helping the economy grow. The belief that public spending is good for growth is the largest fallacy associated with modern macroeconomic theory. Being unable to tell the difference between welfare and wealth creation is possibly Keynes’s most lasting legacy, a legacy which has been poisoning public policy since the 1930s.

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