Keynes and His Critics: Treasury Responses to the Keynesian Revolution, 1925-1946

G. C. Peden
OUP/British Academy, 16/12/2004 - 372 páginas
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These documents, published here for the first time, present the Treasury's counter-arguments during the period when Keynes was developing the ideas that led to the Keynesian revolution in economic policy. Keynes spent much effort trying to persuade the Treasury to adopt policies designed to raise employment and stabilise prices, and to create an international monetary system that would favour these objectives. His arguments are set out fully in the Royal Economic Society's 30-volume set of The Collected Writings of John Maynard Keynes. In contrast, the views of his Treasury critics have hitherto been much less accessible. Economists and historians have tended to assume that Keynes was right and the Treasury was wrong; this volume shows that the Treasury anticipated the political problems that would be encountered in putting Keynes's ideas into practice. Much of what Keynes published was deliberately polemical: he believed that words should be 'a little wild', for they were 'the assault of thought on the unthinking'. Treasury officials were by no means as unthinking as Keynes tended to portray them, and they had a coherent and intellectually respectable understanding of public finance. Ministers in the inter-war period and early in the Second World War were sensitive to the use that political opponents might make of Keynes's arguments; officials had to provide counter-arguments, and in doing so they revealed much about their views on economics and public finance. Once Keynes became an adviser to the Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1940, the debate became internal to the Treasury, but officials continued to subject Keynes's ideas to critical analysis. The documents in this volume show Treasury responses to Keynes on a range of issues crucial to understanding the period and the context of the Keynesian revolution in public policy. The topics covered include: the return to the gold standard; the use of public expenditure to cure unemployment in the inter-war period; how to avoid inflation in the war; planning for the post-war international economy; and the 1944 white paper on employment policy. This edition is an essential tool for the study of a formative period of British history and a great intellectual debate.

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Introduction 1
a cure for unemployment
The Macmillan Committee and the reformulation
The end of the gold standard and free trade
The means to prosperity
The general theory of employment interest
Rearmament and reflationary finance
How to pay for the war
Planning the postwar international economy
Planning postwar employment policy
The National Debt Enquiry and postwar
Dramatis Personae
Select Bibliography
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George Peden is at Professor of History, University of Stirling.

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