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Keynes: The Return of the Master Paperback – October 26, 2010
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“The book offers clear and cogent critiques of modern macroeconomic thought, along with a brief but useful summary of what went wrong in 2007-9.”
Financial Times, October 18, 2010
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Part II is entitled "The Rise and Fall of Keynesian Economics" and describes Keynes and his economics in the context of the Great Depression. On p. 111-3, Skidelsky points out the difference between today's mainstream macroeconomics and the idea of Keynes. Some of these points could be argued with more clarity. Skidelsky fails to point out the implication of accepting Gaussian probabilities in financial markets, which is that financial markets can not be a source of "instability". However, this implication is probably clear to most economists and Skidelsky writes about this elsewhere (p.44).
In part III, The Return of Keynes, Skidelsky focuses mostly on philosophy and political economy. I reckon that this is the most interesting part of the book for most readers. Skidelsky raises "the old question of whether ideas are part of the base or the superstructure of social life - society's building blocks or weapons in the struggle for power." (p.115) and then continues to compare the ideas and performance of the Keynesian Bretton Woods System (1951-1973) with that of the neoliberal Washington Consensus System (1980-now).
This is followed by a chapter on the ethics of Keynes. Based on the philosopher G.E. Moore, Keynes ponders first the question on ethics "What is good?Read more ›
His book views the crisis through the spectacles of Keynesian economics. It manifests the author's considerable erudition in history of economics, and shows much refreshingly independent thought. Skidelsky's expressed agenda is the reform of economics and the teaching of economics.
Skidelsky maintains that economics has given a poor account of origins of the recent financial crisis, because there is something essentially incompatible between the economist's view of individual rationality and the systemic financial collapse. His chief argument is that underlying the escalating succession of recent financial crises there is a failure of economics to take uncertainty seriously and to cover up this neglect by means of sophisticated mathematics and statistics including econometrics.
Contrary to rationality in which all risks can be correctly priced such that financial markets are optimally self-regulating, economic choices are governed by conventional rather than rational expectations. Conventional expectations involve irreducible uncertainty with its "black swans" - bubbles inflated by positive feedback followed by collapse.
Skidelsky never references Nobel laureate economist and political scientist Herbert Simon. But his view of Keynes is in certain respects suggestive of Simon's thesis of bounded rationality.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great analysis of a great economist and an excellent analysis of his work.Published 3 months ago by HARRY RABB
This is a fascinating read about the economic theories that shape our world. Scary yet illuminating. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Ben F.
A very interesting reading of Keynes in the light of the financial crisis. There is much to learn from Keynes for today.Published 13 months ago by Sami Al Suwailem
A picture is worth a thousand words, and this book has a dearth of pictures and graphs. While he makes valid points, they could've made more lucid when accompanied by more ground... Read morePublished 14 months ago by Arnab K. Karmakar
Potential readers should set correct expectations. I would not recommend reading a book about economics, written by Skidelsky, entitled "Keynes," if you are prone to complaining... Read morePublished 14 months ago by Derek Zweig
Robert Skidelsky is right : we need to restore Keynesian economics to the current debate. Lord Skidelsky has contributed immensely with his monumental three volume biography of... Read morePublished 15 months ago by Geoff Crocker
I found it "dense" perhaps at times, but it was good. I understood the man and his "competition" much better after reading it.Published 21 months ago by Jim Shockley
I missed the book when it first came out. Readers with an economics background can appreciate Skidelsky's writing for its insight into Keynesian and classical economics, and their... Read morePublished on October 25, 2013 by Waldiski