Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Keynes Hayek: The Clash That Defined Modern Economics

Keynes Hayek: The Clash That Defined Modern Economics
By Nicholas Wapshott
W. W. Norton & Company, 2012. 400 pages. Nonfiction. Biography

Nicholas Wapshott compares and contrasts the two leading economists of the modern era, John Maynard Keynes and Friedrich Hayek. Both came from comfortably well off families, though in the First World War, Hayek served in Austria's air force while Keynes worked for the British treasury and helped his friends avoid enlistment. Both men watched in horror as the poor financial decisions of the UK and the punishments of the Treaty of St Germain plunged the world into depression and were inspired to search for the truth of economics. The rivalry between the two schools of thought they developed has defined political economics ever since.

Written in the wake of the 2008 recession and subsequent bailout, Keynes Hayek aims to elucidate the debate between Keynes argument for government intervention and Hayek's argument that government intervention at best only delays the inevitable. Wapshott, a career journalist and prolific biographer, sheds light on both theories by connecting them to the individual; while the subject matter and the need to quote from the two economists and others in the field make the text abstruse at times, his narrative approach allows for understanding by those with no economic background. I highly enjoyed it and would recommend it to anyone hoping to learn more about how the economy works and why it matters what we do to it, though fans of biographies in general will also enjoy it. 


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