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Keynes’ kamp

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Har du nogensinde tænkt over, hvad økonomi er for en videnskab? Hvordan opstod den, og hvem var dens grundlæggere?


Eller har du interesseret dig for moderne diskussioner om samfundet, herunder ulighed, ressourceforbrug eller konkurrence? Hvis dette er tilfældet, er økonomiens teorihistorie vigtig og nyttig for dig. Den type af diskussioner er nemlig mindst lige så gammel som den økonomiske videnskab selv, og du vil i dens rødder også finde rødderne til de moderne argumenter.


I dagens afsnit skal vi tale om en baron. En baron der af mange anses som det 20. århundredes største økonom, nemlig John Maynard Keynes. Vi kommer til at beskæftige os med ham ift. ham som person og hans tid. Keynes var en kompleks og spændende herre som udover økonomi havde stor passion for kulturliv, aktiehandel og politik, men måske også var en anelse for blåøjet i hans fokusering på den korte bane. Derfor vil vi også beskæftige os med hans kritikere, såsom Hayek, Buchanan og Friedman. 


Der er meget mere at vide om Keynes og til de særligt interesserede, har min dygtige underviser Professor Caldwell disse noter:


The literature on Keynes is gargantuan; one is tempted to paraphrase Mill on value theory and say that, as far as our knowledge of Keynes is concerned, nothing remains for the present or any future author to clear up. There is first of all The Collected Writings of John Maynard Xeynes, Austin Robinson and Donald Moggridge, eds., 30 volumes (London: Macmillan [for the Royal Economic Society], 1971-89).


Confident of their value Keynes seems to have written every thought down, preserving them in notes stuck on a spike on his desk, in diaries and in letters to others. Thus The Collected Writings, in addition to eleven volumes containing all of Keynes' major published writings, include two devoted to correspondence and thirteen covering other "activities." Especially important are volumes 13, 14 and 29 (the last a supplement necessitated by the discovery, in the winter of 1975-76 at Keynes's summer house in Tilton, of a laundry hamper full of papers) on the development and defense of The Treatise on Money and The General Theory. This huge primary source has been a gold mine for Keynes scholars. Even so, the editors have been criticized on occasion for their selectivity, and an additional multi-volume work edited by Rod O'Donnell entitled The Collected Philosophical and Other Writings of J.M. Keynes is now underway.


 The starting point in the secondary literature was once Roy Harrod's long (656 pages), eloquent and nuanced paean, The Life of John Maynard Keynes (N.Y.: Harcourt Brace, 1951; N.Y.: Norton, 1982) and Seymour Harris, ed. The New Economics. Keynes' Influence on Theory and Public Policy (N.Y.: Knopf, 1947), the latter a collection of essays by many major economists of the day.  More recently two impressive works have appeared. D.E. Moggridge's (941 pp.) Maynard Keynes: An Economist’s Biography (London: Routledge, 1992) is somewhat dry, but comprehensive, and as an economist he is in the position to comment upon a half a century of economists' writings on Keynes, and Keynes’ own writings on economics. The historian Robert Skidelsky's three volume life of Keynes is comprehensive and beautifully written: John Maynard Keynes. Hopes Betrayed 1883-1920, Volume 1 (N.Y.: Viking, [1983], 1986),  JMK: The Economist as Saviour 1920-1937, Volume 2 (London: Macmillan, 1992), andJMK. Fighting for Britain, 1937-46 Volume 3 (London: Macmillan, 2000). For a one volume treatment that condenses the three, see Skidelsky’s John Maynard Keynes 1883-1946: Economist, Philosopher, Statesman (London: Penguin, 2005). Two comprehensive collections of articles on Keynes are John Maynard Keynes: Critical Assessments, ed. John C. Wood, 4 volumes (London: Croom Helm, 1983), which includes the major

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