John Maynard Keynes

John Maynard KeynesKeynes was a British economist (1883-1946), son of the economist and methodologist John Neville Keynes. J. M. Keynes first gained notoriety with his work during the Versailles Peace Conference, when he cleverly proposed in his book “The Economic Consequences of the Peace”, 1919, not to punish Germany to avoid future retaliation. Later, during the Great Depression, he fought the conservative views advocating for a restoration of the gold standard in the famous pamphlet “The Economic Consequences of Mr. Churchill”. After a series of papers on monetary issues, he published in 1936 the most important of his works, the “General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money”, which was the foundation of the thencalled New Economic Science, or Keynesianism. Keynes’ main thesis was that unemployment during the Great Depression was the result of the decrease in effective demand. Therefore, to achieve full employment, it was necessary to revive the economic system through public investment. In the last years of his life, J. M. Keynes participated in the negotiations of Bretton Woods, in 1944, leading to the creation of the International Monetary Fund.

At the Bretton Woods conference, where he was part of the British delegation, he raised the idea that the IMF should be constituted as a true worldwide central bank, capable of issuing paper currency for international payments, for which he proposed the name “bancor”. Most of the ideas mentioned in the “Keynes Plan” were not followed through, since they competed with the U.S. proposals specified in the “White Plan”.

Great disciples of Keynes, part of the Cambridge School, were Joan Robinson, Nicholas Kaldor and John R. Hicks, to name a few.