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 58: Piero Sraffa

Heinz D. Kurz

Abstract

Keynes and Sraffa were on friendly terms with and had great respect for one another, but when it came to economics their minds did not always meet. Keynes based his analysis largely on Marshall’s theory of value and distribution, which Sraffa criticized fiercely. Sraffa therefore had difficulties with elements in Keynes’s theory that derived from Marshall, such as the supply function for output as a whole. Sraffa helped Keynes out of an impasse when Hayek attacked the Treatise. The concept of commodity rate of interest, which Sraffa introduced on this occasion, Keynes adopted in the General Theory in his theory of liquidity preference. However, Sraffa felt that Keynes had blundered and argued that the theory was unable to support the edifice erected upon it.

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