Photo: 3IM10 via Flickr
On this date in 1883, one of the most influential men in history was born in a modest home at 6 Harvey Road in Cambridge, England.John Maynard Keynes would go on to dictate the course of the world economy, yet his legacy remains highly polarised.
On the right, he is lambasted as having given rise to “cloddish meddlers” in markets.
On the left, he is hailed as the mastermind behind monetary and fiscal stimulus schemes that have saved the economy over and over again.
Both these contain a kernel of truth, while occluding Keynes’ true nature.
We put together 11 little-known Keynes Facts we think proves that, whatever you may think of his ideas, his ideals were admirable.
If it seems Daniel Alpert, Mohamed El-Erian and even our guy Josh Brown wear a plethora of hats, they pale to Keynes' duties, which included:
- Full-time lecturer, Kings College
- Full-time bursar, Kings College
- Financial consultant
- Columnist and journalist, The Guardian
- Member, Liberal Party's Industrial Policy Committee
Or kept lurid diaries of homosexual encounters? Like any Bloomsbury member with his or her salt, Keynes' love life was rather explosive.
Keynes kept detailed accounts of his encounters, using his economist's precision to record the precise nature of each tryst.
'For my part I think that capitalism, wisely managed, can probably be made more efficient for attaining economic ends than any alternative system yet in sight, but that in itself it is in many ways extremely objectionable,' he said in his lecture The End of Laissez-Faire.
'The intelligentsia of the Left were the loudest in demanding that the Nazi aggression should be resisted at all costs,' he wrote in an op-ed for The Times in 1939. 'When it comes to a showdown, scarce four weeks have passed before they remember that they are pacifists and write defeatist letters to your columns, leaving the defence of freedom and civilisation to Colonel Blimp [ and the Old School Tie, for whom Three Cheers.'
In 1935, he wrote the following to George Bernard Shaw:
'... you have to know that I believe myself to be writing a book on economic theory which will largely revolutionise - not, I suppose, at once but in the course of the next 10 years - the way the world thinks about economic problems.'
A co-delegate to Bretton Woods had this to say about him at the time:
'I often find myself thinking that Keynes must be one of the most remarkable men that have ever lived - the quick logic, the birdlike swoop of intuition, the vivid fancy, the wide vision, above all the incomparable sense of the fitness of words, all combine to make something several degrees beyond the limit of ordinary human achievement.'