John Maynard Keynes

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John Maynard Keynes

John Maynard Keynes (right) and Harry Dexter White at the Bretton Woods Conference
Born June 5, 1883(1883-06-05)
Cambridge, UK
Died April 21, 1946(1946-04-21) (aged 62)
Tilton, Sussex, UK
Education Eton College and King's College, Cambridge
Occupation Economist
Spouse Lydia Lopokova
Parents John Neville Keynes, Florence Ada Brown

John Maynard Keynes, 1st Baron Keynes, CB (5 June 1883 – 21 April 1946) was a British economist. His ideas, called Keynesian economics, had a big impact on modern economic and political theory. His ideas also had a big impact on many governments' tax and economic policies. He said governments should use tax and banking measures to stop the effects of economic recessions, depressions and booms. He is one of the fathers of modern theoretical macroeconomics.

Biography[change | change source]

Personal and marital life[change | change source]

John Maynard Keynes was born at 7 Melville Road, Cambridge, England. His father was John Neville Keynes, an economics lecturer at Cambridge University. His mother was Florence Ada Brown, a successful author and a social reformer. His younger brother, Geoffrey Keynes (1887–1982) was a surgeon and bibliophile (book lover). His younger sister Margaret (1890–1974) married the Nobel Prize-winning physiologist Archibald Hill.

Keynes first went to King’s College, Cambridge, in 1902. At first he studied mathematics. Later he studied economics under A.C. Pigou and Alfred Marshall. People think Professor Marshall prompted Keynes to change his studies from mathematics and classics to economics. Keynes received his B.A. in 1905 and his M.A. in 1908.

When Keynes was young, he had romantic and sexual relationships with men.[1] One of his great loves was the artist Duncan Grant, whom he met in 1908. Keybes was also involved with the writer Lytton Strachey.[1] Keynes appeared to turn away from homosexual relationships around the time of the first World War.[1] In 1918, he met Lydia Lopokova, a well-known Russian ballerina. Keynes and Lopokova married in 1925.[1]

Keynes was a successful investor and he built up a big fortune. He nearly lost all of his money after the Stock Market Crash of 1929. Later he re-built his fortune.

He enjoyed collecting books: for example, he collected and protected many of Isaac Newton's papers.

Lord Bertrand Russell said Keynes was the most intelligent person he had ever known. Lord Russell said: "Every time I argued with Keynes, I felt that I took my life in my hands, and I seldom emerged without feeling something of a fool."

Career[change | change source]

Keynes accepted a lectureship at Cambridge in economics funded personally by Alfred Marshall. Soon he was appointed to the Royal Commission on Indian Currency and Finance, where he was able to put economic theory into practice.

During World War I he worked for the Adviser to the Chancellor of the Exchequer and to the Treasury on Financial and Economic Questions.

Keynes also attended the Conference on the Versailles Treaty to end World War I. He wrote The Economic Consequences of the Peace in 1919, and A Revision of the Treaty in 1922. In his books he said that the reparations which Germany was being made to pay would ruin the German economy and would lead to further fighting in Europe. These predictions were shown to be true when the German economy suffered in the hyperinflation of 1923. Reparations were only completed in 2010.

Keynes's magnum opus (Latin for "Great Work", meaning his most famous book) was the General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money. The General Theory was published in 1936. The ideas in that book were very different from classical economics.

Historians agree that Keynes influenced U.S. president Roosevelt's New Deal, but disagree as to what extent. Spending more the government earned in taxes (called deficit spending) was used in the New Deal from 1938. But the idea had been agreed to by President Herbert Hoover. Few senior economists in the U.S. agreed with Keynes in the 1930s. With time, however, his ideas became more widely accepted.[2]

In 1942, Keynes was raised to the House of Lords. He became Baron Keynes of Tilton in the County of Sussex. When he sat in the House of Lords he was a Liberal member.

During World War II, Keynes wrote a book titled How to Pay for the War. He said the war effort should be paid for by higher taxes. He did not like deficit spending because he wanted to avoid inflation.

Death[change | change source]

Keynes died of a myocardial infarction (heart attack) at his holiday home in Tilton, East Sussex. His heart problems were made worse by the strain of working on post-war international financial problems. He died soon after he arranged a guarantee of an Anglo-American loan to Great Britain. Keynes' father, John Neville Keynes (1852–1949) outlived his son by three years. Keynes's brother Sir Geoffrey Keynes (1887–1982) was a distinguished surgeon, scholar and bibliophile. His nephews include Richard Keynes (born 1919) a physiologist; and Quentin Keynes (1921–2003) an adventurer and bibliophile. Keynes did not have children.

Bibliography[change | change source]

Influences on Keynes' works[change | change source]

These people influenced Keynes:

Related pages[change | change source]

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 http://www.nytimes.com/books/98/12/06/specials/skidelsky-keynes.html
  2. Martin, Kingsley (16 March 1940). "Mr Keynes Has A Plan". Picture Post.

Other websites[change | change source]