Keynes Hayek: Questions for Thursday’s Read

Alright, I still don’t have an accounting of our numbers (and I’m not even listed as an instructor), but it’s time to start talking about Wapshott’s Keynes Hayek book.

First up, roll call.  Who are Edgeworth? Marshall? Mises? Menger? Robinson? Kahn?

Second up, what do we know about the personalities of Keynes and Hayek?  Do they remind you of anybody?  Do you think the recent rap videos are accurate characterizations? (see, for example, p. 48).

Third up, let’s revisit some basics — what is meant by “capitalism” and “socialism”?

A continuing question: What is Keynes view of government?  As you answer this question, think of (1) his reaction to the war reparations and his characterization of the likes of David Lloyd George and Woodrow Wilson; (2) the Bank of England’s decision to raise lending rates in 1923 (p. 32); (3) Britain’s decision to return to the gold standard (pp. 39-40).  In each case the government made what Keynes considered to be disastrous decisions, yet at the same time he believed the “he maintains the belief that the government or the Bank of England should manage the economy. Does Keynes believe that the British government as an institution is fundamentally sound, but that they just need better economic advice?  The second point above, evidently, was the beginning of the Keynesian Revolution (p. 32; read footnote 3).  Does that surprise you?

Another continuing questions: what is meant by “laissez faire”?  The simple answer would seem to be that there is “limited” government intervention.  Yet, the Bank of England sets interest rates, the government must make fundamental decisions about the currency — whether or not to adopt a “gold” standard, whether to have a central bank, whether to have a national currency, whether or not to tie that currency to precious metals (e.g., a gold standard or a “bimetallic” standard).  What would constitute laissez faire in these contexts?

As a follow up to this question, on page 43 Wapshott argues that the battle lines are drawn: Keynes believes in using the government as a means to help the disadvantaged, Hayek sees intervention as futile. Again, given what’s going on in these previous two paragraphs, is this characterization too simplistic?

To what extent does Keynes’ advocacy (ideology?) affect his analysis?  Consider his discussion of sticky wages and unemployment on p. 60.

What is the effect of fixing the price of currency to gold on the general price level and on the exchange rate? (see, for instance, pp. 38-9).

What is the “natural rate of interest”? (see, for instance, p. 43).

That should get us through the first hour.  See you at 3:25 in Steitz.

For those of you with some extra spare time, reviews from  Tyler Cowen, Peter Lewin (UT Dallas), and Brian Doherty (Reason magazine), and here’sNicholas Wapshott talkign with Russ Roberts (including beau coup resources at EconTalk).



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