John Maynard Keynes
Birth - Death
1883 - 1946
John Maynard Keynes was one of the most influential and pragmatic economists in history. He developed an economic school of thought that is named after him and remains in use today – Keynesian economics. This approach to economic analysis and policy prescription is credited for resuscitating the workings of the global economy post World War II and the Great Depression.
Keynes’ formal educational training came from his studies at King’s College, Cambridge in the fields of philosophy and mathematics. During this period he enjoyed his most liberal forms of same-sex attraction, with notable relationships exclusively with men and to which he was quite open in discussing. Despite these relationships during his college years, however, Keynes decided to marry ballerina Lydia Lipokova shortly after graduation.
At this point, Keynes began working in the Civil Service in various roles. He joined the Treasury department in 1915. He worked as an economic advisor to the Paris peace conference after the first World War. He learned significant lessons first-hand about the economic and political perils of Germany’s heavy economic burden imposed in the form of reparations by the Allies.
This particular experience, together with the lessons he learned about the Great Depression, shaped Keynes’ thinking on the economic relationship between government spending, money supply, employment, and economic growth. He published his book The Means to Prosperity (1933) in which he argued the need for government borrowing and spending to counter the natural economic cycles of business and trade to temper unemployment and production declines in periods of economic slowdown. This would cause government to abandon balanced budgets and to run deficits in such periods.
This thinking was expanded and presented in greater detail in his definitive book The Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money (1936). Here Keynes provided the theoretical grounding of his Keynesian Economics by graphically showing the relationship between the supply of goods and services, their demand, and prices through the modeling of their relationship to each other.
Keynes was given the opportunity to put theory into practice post World War II when he was placed in the position of being a principal architect of the post-war international financial system, known as the Bretton Woods system. The result included the creation of the World Bank, the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and the International Monetary Fund as global government financial institutions to manage international trade, financings, investment, exchange rates, interest rates, and money supply. The goal was to achieve better international financial stability to ensure consistent growth and full employment within the principle global economies.
Keynes’ theoretical processes of supply and demand management in the economy, and their oversight by governments through various fiscal and monetary policies, were universally adopted by the capitalist Western countries at the time. While such policies are not without their critics, and the extent of their use has waxed and waned over time, Keynesian economics remains a principle economic theory shaping the operations of capitalist economies and government.
The question often arises as to the relationship between the theories of John Maynard Keynes and his homosexuality, if any. To what extent does one’s sexual preference affect an outlook on optimal economic policy? A huge backlash occurred in 2013 when noted economist Niall Ferguson suggested Keynes got his economics all wrong because, as a childless homosexual, he lacked the foresight to concern himself with longer term prosperity.
Many factors shape an individual’s approach to problem solving and theoretical analysis, but to suggest that sexual preference plays such a significant role as to impair scientific insight defies simple logic. Such an argument asserts that sexual orientation drives complete bias, and that such bias will automatically have a negative effect on the analysis and the outcome. There is no sociological study which confirms this. It is an opinion that reflects a sentiment of intolerance and reflects outright opposition to the policy itself.
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