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The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money (Great Minds) Paperback – May 1, 1997
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About the Author
John Maynard Keynes was born in Cambridge, England, on July 5, 1883. His father, John Neville Keynes, was a professor and administrator at Cambridge University and himself the author of The Scope and Methods of Political Economy. After attending Eton (1897–1902), Keynes entered King’s College, where he studied economics. Following graduation, he worked in the India Office (1906–1908); lectured on economics at Cambridge (1908); was made a fellow of King’s College (1909), editor of the Economic Journal, and secretary of the Royal Economic Society (1911); and accepted a position in the British treasury.
In 1919 Keynes was principal representative of the treasury at the Paris Peace Conference. Disturbed by developments at the conference, however, he soon resigned. His Economic Consequences of the Peace (1919) gave voice to his strong objection to the punitive measures being enacted against Germany. In this eloquently argued and strangely prescient work, Keynes detailed the problems that would result from the war reparations to be made by conquered Germany beyond her ability to pay, as well as the devastating economic, social, and political consequences of continuing European ultranationalism.
Keynes returned to England to resume teaching at Cambridge (1920–37), during which time he gave the Sidney Ball Lecture that was published as the pamphlet The End of Laissez-Faire (1926) and wrote his main work, The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money (1935–36). Critiquing the neoclassical theory of Alfred Marshall, namely, that a normally functioning market
economy leads to full employment, Keynes showed that a market economy can operate at less than full employment and that it may even work against reducing unemployment. Keynes advocated enlightened governmental intervention over unregulated laissez-faire policies. The Keynesian analysis of how monetary and financial arrangements affect the economy has formed the basis of subsequent activist governmental fiscal and monetary policy.
Heart trouble ended Keynes’s academic career in 1937. However, he remained active as an adviser to the chancellor of the exchequer (1940) and as principal British delegate and negotiator at the Bretton Woods Conference (1944), Stage II of Lend Lease (1944), arrangements for a United States loan to Britain (1945), and the inauguration of the International Monetary Fund and the International Bank (1946). In 1942, he was raised to the peerage, being named 1st Baron Keynes of Tilton. John Maynard Keynes died in Firle, Sussex, on April 21, 1946.
Keynes’s other published works include A Revision of the Treaty (1922), A Tract on Monetary Reform (1923), A Treatise on Money (1930), and How to Pay for the War (1940).
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This edition is bunk, though. I think it's one of those quick-print versions where a publishing company takes a text available through public domain and prints you a copy when you order it. That's probably fine in itself, but this one is missing all of the footnotes, where (I hear!) Keynes conducts a lot of his argument with his contemporary economists. Page 81 even references them: "My running comments on the above [topic] have been made in the footnotes." But no footnotes!
This particular edition is also large (~7.5"x10") with fairly small print, making a less than ideal physical reading experience. It's skinny, too, squeezing more than 400 pages worth of material into 167 pages. I don't know about you, but I really like being able to turn the pages more often than I can here. Turning makes me feel like I'm making progress.
There is ample room in the margins and other white space for your own notes, though, which is a plus.
Keynes' GT argues that the classic theory of laissez-faire is actually a rare case. His general theory, that a capitalist economy is unstable due to the inherent flaws of capitalism, is the normal condition. An objective of full employment, through monetary and fiscal policy, will alleviate the curse of depressions and major recessions. By allowing government control of output his theory has saved capitalism from demise.
It is unfortunate that Keynes' name is used in a modern sense to support actions which he directly refutes in the GT. A must read for anyone interested in the GT is Hyman Minsky's 'Stabilizing an Unstable Economy'.
Sidenote: The BN edition of the GT is terrible. I ordered the hardcover edition to have a permanent reference. This edition has numerous typos, nearly unreadable tables, awkward physical dimensions, and Keynes' internal citations do not line up with BN's pages. Also, for some reason the last paragraph in some chapters are a different font. It is possible that it was an update by Keynes but no clue is given in the book. Not even the original date of publication is given. Avoid the BN edition if possible.