John Maynard Keynes

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A study of the history of opinion is a necessary preliminary to the emancipation of the mind.

John Maynard Keynes, 1st Baron Keynes of Tilton (5 June 1883 - 21 April 1946) was a British economist whose ideas, known as Keynesian economics, had a major impact on modern economic and political theory and on many governments' fiscal policies.

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  • I work for a Government I despise for ends I think criminal.
  • "We will not have any more crashes in our time."
    • Conversation with Felix Somary in 1927, reported in Felix Somary, The Raven of Zurich. London: C. Hurst, 1986 (1960), 146-7.
  • Thus those reformers, who look for a remedy by creating artificial carrying-costs for money through the device of requiring legal-tender currency to be periodically stamped at a prescribed cost…have been on the right track; and the practical value of their proposals deserves considerations. ... It is a sound thought which lies behind the stamped money.
    • John Maynard Keynes, in his General Theory
The long run is a misleading guide to current affairs. In the long run we are all dead.
  • The long run is a misleading guide to current affairs. In the long run we are all dead. Economists set themselves too easy, too useless a task if in tempestuous seasons they can only tell us that when the storm is past the ocean is flat again.
    • A Tract on Monetary Reform (1923) Ch. 3; many have thought this meant Keynes supported short terms gains against long term economic performance, but he was actually criticizing the belief that inflation would acceptably control itself without government intervention.
When the accumulation of wealth is no longer of high social importance, there will be great changes in the code of morals...
  • In truth, the gold standard is already a barbarous relic.
    • Monetary Reform (1924), p. 172
For at least another hundred years we must pretend to ourselves and to every one that fair is foul and foul is fair; for foul is useful and fair is not. Avarice and usury and precaution must be our gods for a little longer still.
  • When the accumulation of wealth is no longer of high social importance, there will be great changes in the code of morals. We shall be able to rid ourselves of many of the pseudo-moral principles which have hag-ridden us for two hundred years, by which we have exalted some of the most distasteful of human qualities into the position of the highest virtues. We shall be able to afford to dare to assess the money-motive at its true value. The love of money as a possession — as distinguished from the love of money as a means to the enjoyments and realities of life — will be recognised for what it is, a somewhat disgusting morbidity, one of those semi-criminal, semi-pathological propensities which one hands over with a shudder to the specialists in mental disease ... But beware! The time for all this is not yet. For at least another hundred years we must pretend to ourselves and to everyone that fair is foul and foul is fair; for foul is useful and fair is not. Avarice and usury and precaution must be our gods for a little longer still. For only they can lead us out of the tunnel of economic necessity into daylight.
  • If economists could manage to get themselves thought of as humble, competent people on a level with dentists, that would be splendid.
    • "The Future" Ch. 5, Essays in Persuasion (1931)
Words ought to be a little wild for they are the assault of thoughts on the unthinking.
  • Most men love money and security more, and creation and construction less, as they get older.
    • "The Future", Essays in Persuasion (1931)

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To our generation Einstein has been made to become a double symbol — a symbol of the mind travelling in the cold regions of space, and a symbol of the brave and generous outcast, pure in heart and cheerful of spirit.
Newton was not the first of the age of reason. He was the last of the magicians...
The day is not far off when the economic problem will take the back seat where it belongs...
When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?
It is better to be roughly right than precisely wrong.
I should have drunk more champagne.

The Economic Consequences of the Peace (1919)

By a continuing process of inflation, governments can confiscate, secretly and unobserved, an important part of the wealth of their citizens.
The process engages all the hidden forces of economic law on the side of destruction, and does it in a manner which not one man in a million is able to diagnose.
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A Short View of Russia (1925)

Originally three essays for the Nation and Athenaeum, later published separately as A Short View of Russia (1925), then edited down for publication in Essays in Persuasion (1931)

The End of Laissez-faire (1926)

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Marxian Socialism must always remain a portent to the historians of Opinion — how a doctrine so illogical and so dull can have exercised so powerful and enduring an influence over the minds of men, and, through them, the events of history.

The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money (1935)

The difficulty lies, not in the new ideas, but in escaping from the old ones, which ramify, for those brought up as most of us have been, into every corner of our minds.
The social object of skilled investment should be to defeat the dark forces of time and ignorance which envelope our future.

Quotes about Keynes

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