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More About John Maynard Keynes
John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946) is widely considered to have been the most influential economist of the 20th century. His key books include The Economic Consequences of the Peace (1919); A Treatise on Probability (1921); A Tract on Monetary Reform (1923); A Treatise on Money (1930); and his magnum opus, the General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money (1936). Robert Skidelsky is Emeritus Professor of Political Economy at the University of Warwick, England, and a member of the House of Lords. His three-volume biography of Keynes received numerous awards, including the Lionel Gelber Prize and the Council on Foreign Relations Prize.
John Maynard Keynes was born in 1883 and died in 1946 and has an academic affiliation as follows - University of Cambridge.
Reviews - What do customers think about The Economic Consequences of the Peace?
Historical Read and Timeless Classic Dec 19, 2007
This is the first book by economist John Maynard Keynes, and one of his most important. Controversial when it was released, and probably still a little controversial today, this book is an interesting view into the mind of one of the most influential economical minds.
Brisk, passionate, utterly convincing Dec 12, 2007
The Economic Consequences of the Peace always feels like it's going to get dragged down by statistics, but it rarely does. Indeed it's one of the best presentations of a heavily numerical argument in plain English that I've seen.
Keynes wants to convince us, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Germany will never be able to pay the reparations demanded of it. Accordingly, the middle 70% of the book is a detailed accounting of Germany's exports, imports, and internal health. Among many other findings, Keynes shows that Germany couldn't possibly pay the reparations without giving up most every creature comfort -- down to coffee and tobacco. And as for its exports, allowing Germany to wither economically would drag down the rest of Europe with it.
Keynes dispenses with that middle 70% as clearly and briskly as he can, as support for the moral argument. In large part, Germany cannot pull itself out of the hell it's in until its people have some confidence in the future -- until, in effect, they stop hoarding their bread under the mattress and start eating it instead.
Keynes explores this from an angle I hadn't thought of before. In essence, his point is that fears about the future change the world as it is today: why would you sign a long-term contract denominated in marks if you believed the marks would be valueless in a year? Under the circumstances, the honorable thing would be to refuse to do business with anything but German businesses. Before you can conduct foreign trade, you need currency stability. And, in turn, how can you expect currency stability when reparations force Germany to hand over nearly all of its gold and silver?
This book is an excellent blend of the moral and the statistical, the practical and the hopeful. And it also happens to be a terrific ground-level view of the world immediately after 1919.
Brilliant foresight Jan 16, 2007
John Maynard Keynes describes in sufficient detail, and in the flowing language of his day, the terms of the Treaty of Versailles - particularly how they laid the groundwork for future conflict in Europe. It is easy to view his ideas as commonsense in light of the benefits of hindsight, yet this book is remarkably insightful in its predictions that eventually manifested themselves during the Second World War. Above all, this work should be valued as a classic example that the Carthaginian terms of the Paris Peace Conference did not go unnoticed during their time. They were then, as now, seen as a dangerous effort in retribution that would only rub salt in the wounds of Europe.
Keynes' disorganized critique of the Versailles Treaty Jan 9, 2007
This book achieved instant fame when it was published in 1919, not only for its scathing criticism of the Versailles Treaty but also for its personal attacks against leading signatories (especially Clemenceau and Wilson). For a book focused primarily on economic concerns, the text is surprisingly easy to read. However, the book's poor organization vitally detracts from its effectiveness. The principle reason the book is still famous today lies in the fact that it was written by none other than John Maynard Keynes, the founder of 20th century style, gov't & debt driven economics.
The book is organized into chapters on pre-war Europe, Allied statesmen, summary of key treaty points, reparations, post-war Europe predictions, and Keynes' suggestion of remedies to provide a practical treaty settlement. Unfortunately, within each chapter things are jumbled together without clear rhyme or reason. (Is this indicative of Keynes' own personal organization and logical thinking?)
Within the book, he makes a very practical (but politically infeasible) argument for a non-vindictive treaty. He basically suggests that the Allies should forget both about reparations and repayment of wartime debts from the other Allies, and instead they should settle (though not ideally) for frontier adjustments and confiscation of only German gov't property. (Did the German gov't sponsor Keynes' work in writing this book?)
Keynes argues that a crushing reparations burden on the German people would disincent them to produce anything beyond a mere subsistence minimum and discourage entrepreneurial enterprise. There is some logic in this point; however, later on he goes on to state that the US should forgive its $10 billion debt to its wartime allies ($5 billion of which was owed by the UK). Forgive me if I'm wrong, but doesn't such a move disincent American entreprises from entrepreneurship as well. It's extremely hypocritical that the Allied gov'ts desperately sought loans from the US during the war and then once it was over to claim that they couldn't pay them. If they didn't want to repay, then they shouldn't have borrowed the money - period. (If I borrow money to buy a home, the bank won't ever agree to forgive my debt - regardless of whether I'm out of work, injured, or the house burns down. I don't see why gov'ts should get any exceptional treatment.)
Notwithstanding his problems with disorganization and inconsistent logic, Keynes does produce a reasonable, brief list of treaty rememdies, especially in his efforts to restore economic life throughout Central and Eastern Europe. Not until the advent of the Cold War and the interests of extending American political influence would Keynes' policies largely succeed (albeit yet again to the detriment of American taxpayers).
Overall, I felt the book was ok. I would only recommend it if you have an interest in reading all of Keynes' work. Don't expect to find any theoretical economic insights in the book, though. Based on the high ratings on this page, I think the other reviewers here might have some pro-Keynesian bias.
The Relevance of a Neglected Masterpiece Oct 17, 2006
This prescient book displays the keen insights of a genius observing a process and result with a devestating prediction later coming to fruition on schedule. It should serve as not only history and foresight but also as an invaluable lesson and warning for those who desire to dictate to defeated or weak nations from a position of obtained military might or success.