Although Sir John Maynard Keynes’ fame is limited to the field of economics, he held sway in affecting governmental policy to a large extent during the Great Depression of the U.S. He is fondly remembered as the father of modern economics (Cutchell 235).
Born in a well-educated family, Keynes had the advantage of his father’s affluence and mother’s guidance to enable him to study economics without hindrance, unlike most of his contemporaries who had to struggle to make ends meet. He was not only an outstanding student, but was also extremely optimistic. It is widely believed, among economists, this optimism came from a happy childhood and later on, reflected in Keynes’ works as well (Fullen 267). Keynes’ journey to fame began when he entered the Civil Services and joined the India Office in 1906. It is here he realized his true interest lay in the field of economics. Hence, he resigned from his post and shifted to Cambridge where he began with the first ever research of his life on probability theory at the Cambridge University in 1908. He published his first book in 1913 by the title of Indian Currency and Finance (Fullen 148).
His most accredited contribution, however, was the renditions he made in the concepts of employment, interest and money. According to Keynes, free market mechanisms should be followed. The main idea of his work Treatise on Money highlighted that when interest rates are high, the savings made by the people will exceed the investments being made—as a result, unemployment will increase (Soren 15). At the time, he contradicted the policies of the government and opined government interference is essential for any economy to function properly. He voiced his criticism of the British government and said a period of recession can be beneficial for the economy (Soren 138). It is in this period, he explained, the government should increase investment by way of enhancing infrastructure, health, and other facilities for people. Keynes completely ignored the concept of the long-term and concentrated his research on short and medium terms. He is believed to have said, in response to criticism for ignoring the long-term aspect, “In the long-term, we are all dead.” His book titled The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money was used as an economic bible by the countries which were hit by the Great Depression in the late 1920s (Soren 94). After steering the world economy out of the Great Depression, Keynes made a significant contribution in the formation of the World Bank and IMF (Maller 117).
There is an entire section of economists who follow him and proudly call themselves the Keynesians. An entire branch of economics is named after him and is known as Keynesian Economics. Due to these reasons and several more, Time magazine included Keynes in the list of 100 most important and influential people of the 20th century in 1999. Keynes has also been portrayed as “Britain’s most famous 20th century economist” by The Economist. Keynes lived his life with optimism and imparted complete justice to the acceptance and fame given to him by the people. His life is an example of his belief and one of his most famous quotes, “Ideas shape the course of history.”
Cutchell, Elena. Masterminds of the Economy. Los Angeles: 22nd Century Minds Press, 2011. Print.
Fullen, Brain. Do You Really Know How to Make Money, Mr. Government? New York: Dollars Ballers, 2012. Print.
Soren, William. Genius Economists. London, Billar Press, 2004. Print.
Maller, Jane. The Father of My Economics. London, Hathorne Books, 2001. Print.
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