Why I Will Never Be a Keynesian.
Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy, 2010, Spring, 33, 2
Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy
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Necessity is both the mother of invention and the source of self-reflection. Nowhere is the latter more true than in social and economic affairs, where massive social and economic dislocations rightly prompt leading theorists to reexamine their fundamental beliefs in trying to figure out, as Paul Krugman framed the question: "Just what went wrong?" (1) Unfortunately, these bouts of self-doubt have led many prominent thinkers to turn their attention back to the leading economic thinker during a past depression, John Maynard Keynes, and his most famous tome--book does not quite do--The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money. (2) The tome appeared in 1936, during the depths of the Great Depression that had been running for seven years and counting. Clearly the book did not cause the Depression, but it did not do anything to abate it either. That only happened with the onset of a far greater tragedy, the Second World War. I confess that in my youth I purchased a copy of Keynes's masterpiece. Dutifully, I sought to read it several times, only to give up in frustration while trying to wade through its turgid prose. Fortunately, it is not necessary to plow through Keynes in order to get some sense of his basic position. Today's skillful expositors, including my colleague Judge Richard A. Posner, have provided lucid explanations of the Keynesian position. (3) Judge Posner's fascination with Keynes has led to a belated confession of past sins, chief of which is an excessive devotion to Chicago-type economics on both the macro and the micro levels. Thus, he tellingly writes: "Economists may have forgotten The General Theory and moved on, but economics has not outgrown it, or the informal mode of argument that it exemplifies, which can illuminate nooks and crannies that are closed to mathematics." (4) I yield to no one in the insistence that critical institutional detail often reveals far more than mathematical equations about the operation of the economic system. But that one point alone is consistent with the work of such theorists as Ronald Coase and such institutionalists as Douglass North, neither of whom is steeped in the occult mathematical arts.
- 2,99 €
- Category: Law
- Published: 22 March 2010
- Publisher: Harvard Society for Law and Public Policy, Inc.
- Print Length: 33 Pages
- Language: English