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John Maynard Keynes Paperback – April 16, 2008

4.4 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

About the Author

Hyman P. Minsky, Ph.D., was the first to explain how uncertainty, risk, and financial markets drive the economy. He was a distinguished scholar at The Levy Economics Institute of Bard college, and taught at Washington University for 25 years.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 181 pages
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill Education; 1 edition (May 7, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0071593012
  • ISBN-13: 978-0071593014
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.5 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #828,304 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By James F. Mueller on April 21, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a great book. But it is a book about the views of Minsky, and not really on Keynes. The first chapter examines the way in which Keynes' 1936 book was received and interpreted, and Minsky's explanation is for the most part correct, namely, that Keynes' work represents more a revolution than an extension of "classical" economics. However, as is argued throughout Minsky's book, The General Theory contained only "the seeds for a deep intellectual revolution in economics and in the economists' view of society." According to Minsky, the Keynesian revolution was aborted and the seeds were prevented from reaching their full fruition due to the "bastardization" of Keynes' seminal message. Minsky sets himself the task in this book to bring these ideas back to life.

Chapter two explores the more orthodox (conventional) view of Keynesian economics. Chapter three is very good, as it spells out the concepts that are to be used later in Minsky's analysis of capitalism: the recurrence of the business cycle, uncertainty, and investment and disequilibrium.

Chapters 4 - 7 develop Minsky's theory of capitalism. Minsky argues that booms are inevitably followed by crises and debt deflation not because of certain institutional weaknesses, but because of the fundamental nature of capitalism. In other words, "Keynes visualized [the imperfections of the financial system] as systemic rather than accidental or perhaps incidental attributes of capitalism." Minsky explores the way investments are made, and examines how they are financed. Central to Minsky's analysis is the importance of uncertainty. Financing and liability structures cannot insulate themselves from danger (excessive risk) precisely because the future is uncertain.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Minsky covers a couple of disjointed topics in the most confusing way. The first one is how everyone so far got Keynes wrong. He covers that in the first couple of chapters. In doing so, Minsky criticizes a bunch of neo Keynesian models developed by eminent economists that invariably miss out on one or more of Keynes' key concepts. Some of those include: 1) the concept of uncertainty associated with any complex economic systems that renders quantitative models futile; 2) the volatility of capital investments that by its nature leads to unstable and less than full employment; 3) wage rigidity is not the sole problem underlying excessive unemployment. If wages were elastic, it would eventually exacerbate unemployment levels even more; and 4) a capitalist economy within an uncertain time vector left to its own resort is by its nature unstable and transits in unpredictable ways from one state to another (expantion, boom, crisis, depression, stagnation, recovery etc...).

The second topic covered through most of the remainder of the book consists in the correct interpretation of Keynes according to Minsky and the integration of Minsky's own theory of crisis within Keynes' framework. Minsky attempts to do both simultaneously. And, he generates a rather awkward narrative. Minsky acknowledges numerous times that Keynes did not advance a logical model of bubbles and crises. He also adds that Keynes ignored the dynamics of the debt side of the balance sheet of households, companies, banks, and governments. And, that's where Minsky's own brilliant theory comes in. And, that is why he is one of the most praised economists in this post-housing crisis era.

However, Minsky contradicts himself.
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Format: Paperback
This excellent book examines John Maynard Keynes' key work, The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money, published in 1936, seven years into the Great Depression, when one in seven US workers was still out of work.

Keynes' thinking largely broke free of the conventional wisdom, that wrecking the trade unions would make the market work again. But he didn't leave behind all conventional free trade thinking.

Minsky writes, "the missing step in the standard Keynesian theory was the explicit consideration of capitalist finance within a cyclical and speculative context." Minsky shows that private investment is the constant source of speculation, instability, slumps and mass unemployment.

Minsky shows the conflict at the centre of capitalism: "the boom is critical; it builds an ever-more-demanding liability structure on the base of a cash-flow foundation consisting of the prospective yields of capital assets, which are, because of technology and the limited ability to squeeze workers' real wages, at best constrained ultimately to grow at a steady rate in real terms. The debt base, which grows at an accelerating rate during a boom, is not so constrained. Thus, debts require increased servicing as they grow and as financing charges increase."

He observes, "In Keynes' own view his theory implied that the existing order should be replaced by a much more egalitarian economy, based upon a dominance of social control over investment. As the private, profit-motivated decisions to invest cannot guarantee a reasonable approximation to full employment, `a somewhat comprehensive socialization of investment' (GT, p. 378) will prove necessary." But Keynes breezed over the politics needed to do this.
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