The Elgar Companion to John Maynard Keynes
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The Elgar Companion to John Maynard Keynes

Edited by Robert W. Dimand and Harald Hagemann

The most influential and controversial economist of the twentieth century, John Maynard Keynes was the leading founder of modern macroeconomics, and was also an important historical figure as a critic of the Versailles Peace Treaty after World War I and an architect of the Bretton Woods international monetary system after World War II. This comprehensive Companion elucidates his contributions, his significance, his historical context and his continuing legacy.
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Chapter 26: “Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren”

Harald Hagemann


The chapter focuses on the essay “Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren” in which Keynes reflects on the consequences of the combined effect of capital accumulation and technical progress and the power of compound interest. In his vision for the year 2030 Keynes considered the economic problem largely solved for the developed Western world in the long run. However, with his estimation of a 15-hour working week Keynes regarded technological unemployment as a new major disease, a temporary problem owing to a phase of maladjustment. Keynes also analysed the social and moral consequences in a materially satiated world, that is, in the age of leisure and abundance. The “Grandchildren” essay elucidates Keynes ambivalent attitude to capitalism: efficient but imperfect from a moral or cultural perspective.

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