Wanted – John Maynard Keynes, Jr

is ploughing through “Godel, Escher, Bach”; I’m plouging through Polanyi’s “The Great Transformation”. It about how England became a market economy and a market society, the answers being the creation of markets, and the creation of insitutions and regulations to manage the social effects of those markets. That’s a hot topic right now, what with the general awareness that globalisation and the Washington consensus of “free markets good, regulation bad” didn’t work that well.

However, this is nothing new. Polanyi’s book was written in the 1940s and was one of the theoretical underpinnings of the policies of the 1950s and 60s – Keynesian, markets under government control. And let’s face it, the 50s and 60s were a great time to be alive, massive economic growth and radical social transformation. Unfortunately, those policies brought us to the cul-de-sac of the 1970s. The way out of the cul-de-sac was the butchery of the market reforms of the 80s and 90s.

So what now? What next? If the policy pendulum swings back to more restraint on markets then yes, we can expect less social damage but we’ll be storing up economic damage to erupt again in a decade or two. Is economic policy just a pendulum swinging between those two options?

Don’t look at me, I dunno. We need a new kind of thinking about economics, about growth, about national policies and about international systems. We haven’t got it yet. But I’m quite liking what Dani Rodrik has to say about the debate (articles, blog).


from B3ta, of course

11 thoughts on “Wanted – John Maynard Keynes, Jr

  1. I’m reading “An Ice Cream War” by William Boyd. It’s a historical novel set in the African theatre of operations in WW1. It’s a good book, and doesn’t require ploughing.

    People should know more about history. I met somebody the other day who believed that Karl Marx was black.

  2. BTW, I’m not convinced that the 50’s and 60’s were the golden age you speak of. Which countries are you talking about?

    NZ combined fairly progressive economic policies with very conservative and authoritarian social policies right up until the demise of the Muldoon government.

    1. The West?

      “You’ve never had it so good”?

      High economic growth for most of Western Europe, US, Canada and round these parts, through education, industralisation, strong trade unions, the Bretton Woods agreement, and all the other contributing factors. Massive social liberalisation, (ok, NZ might have been a bit behind the times) the welfare state, contraception, sexual law reform, the growth of popular culture and youth culture, the development of national TV and radio, all massive changes from the first half of the century.

      Ok, quick rhetorical question to prove my point. Where do you want to live, California in 1960, Oklahoma in 1930, or a grimy industrial town in the Midlands in 1830?

      1. a grimy industrial town in the Midlands in 1830

        Reminds me of a joke that I heard whilst living in Packmoor, S-o-T, circa 1977…

        Q: Why did the Germans never bomb Stoke-on-Trent?

        A: Because the aerial photos looked like they already had!

        1. It’s interesting the way Manners and Cuba Malls look much like the type of buildings that got put up quickly and cheaply to replace those bombed in WW2.

          I assume it was just low cost development and not that somebody misunderstood the concept of a Wellington Bomber.

      2. Depends if I was of draftable age. In 1960 the Vietnam war was just starting.

        Of course there is a limited correlation between economic policies, the success thereof, government social policies and overall quality of life.

  3. Perhaps with my new found knowledge on formal systems, and your knowledge on markets, we can make a formal market language/system. And then we can use Godel’s theorem to prove it’s incomplete.

Leave a Reply

Your e-mail address will not be published. Required fields are marked *