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Keynes Hayek: The Clash That Defined Modern Economics
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Keynes Hayek: The Clash That Defined Modern Economics

3.85  ·  Rating Details ·  1,323 Ratings  ·  144 Reviews
As the stock market crash of 1929 plunged the world into turmoil, two men emerged with competing claims on how to restore the balance to economies gone awry. John Maynard Keynes, the mercurial Cambridge economist, believed that government had a duty to spend when others would not. He met his opposite in a little-known Austrian economics professor, Friedrich Hayek, who cons ...more
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Published November 7th 2011 by Tantor Media (first published 2011)
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Erik Graff
Jan 28, 2012 Erik Graff rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: citizens
Recommended to Erik by: Erik Badger
This book is at once biography, covering the lives of J.M. Keynes and F. Hayek, and an exposition for popular consumption of their respective economic theories. On the latter score it makes for an entertaining, often informative, read. On the former there are some flaws.
Wapshott is a journalist, not an economist, not even a financial journalist. Consequently, some of his exposition of theory is inadequate. I am not an economist myself, but I've been able to read Keynes, Galbraith, Friedman, Mar
JS Found
Apr 01, 2013 JS Found rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The enemy of this engrossing and lucid economic history is binary thinking. We have a war of ideas: between the disciples of John Maynard Keynes and government intervention in the economy vs Friedrich Hayek and classical economics where government has no role to play, and , in fact intervention makes crises worse. This war would play out through much of the Twentieth Century and to our time, as we experienced the Great Recession like a previous generation experienced the Great Depression. In bot ...more
Feb 23, 2012 Marks54 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a dual intellectual biography that discusses the lives and work of Keynes and Hayek and the influence that their work has had (and continues to have) on economic policy and general policy discussions. The discussion is interesting and well informed and does not attempt to oversimplify the differences between these individuals or the nuances in each of their body of work as it developed over the course of their long lives.

For those interested in economic history, this is good stuff -- on
Oct 05, 2011 Randy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very balanced, refusing to take sides until the last paragraph (Wapshott gives J.K. Galbraith the last word).

An interesting chronology of the back-and-forth between the two economists and their proteges.

It falls short in two primary ways: it's a very superficial treatment of the actual economics, and it stays in a very binary mode, never really considering hybrids or other schools of economic thought.

So I enjoyed the first half of the book (covering the era before Keynes' death), and didn't lea
Lauren Albert
I don't feel I learned much economics from this. Wapshott gave the "what" but not the "why" or "how." If "a" leads to "b," tell me why. That is what would help me understand the economics. If "a" sometimes leads to "b" but sometimes to "b-" there must be at least one different variable--what is it or can it be. I also would have liked to have more of the personalities of the men--my own bias towards intellectual biographies.
Keynes: meglio intervenire oggi, spendere, andare in deficit, e chi se ne frega di domani, tanto domani saremo tutti morti.
Hayek: oggi no, oggi non si interviene, non si spende, lasciamo fare al mercato che se va male oggi pazienza, domani tutto si sistemerà.

Bene. Noi ora stiamo riuscendo nell'impresa di vivere al contempo l'oggi di Hayek e il domani di Keynes.

Adesso va male, e dopo sarà peggio.
David Rush
Very readable introduction to Keynes and Hayek. I think it is actually more a book of the effects of the two than an economics 101 view on their actual thoughts. so I'm sure that economic geeks bemoan the simplifications of both economists. You get enough to get a feel of the economics and I'm cool with that, especially since I think I end up with more knowledge of what is involved than most people who throw their names around.

My condensation of this condensed fare is that there is more to Keyne
David Donaldson
Feb 27, 2017 David Donaldson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great exploration of two of the twentieth century's most influential economists. Keynes himself sounds like a fascinating and charismatic guy. Wapshott makes the case that Keynes, and not radical free marketeers like Hayek, are the real saviours of capitalism. The final quote, from John Kenneth Galbraith, is a cracker: "When capitalism finally succumbs, it will be to the thunderous cheers of those who are celebrating their final victory over people like Keynes".
Pedro dos Santos
After reading this book I have a completely new appreciation for the body of work of both Keynes and Hayek. I have read their work before but never realized how interconnected they really were. It is fascinating to me to see the intertwining of personal life and academic work of two of the best minds of the 20th Century. The book mixes economics with history to portray the ideas of Keynes and Hayek and how they influenced each other and modern economics. I think there was just enough economic te ...more
Diogo Jesus
Too detailed on unimportant things. Good and different reading on the keynesianism and "hayekianism" in Reagan and Tatcher policies. Not a professional read of the different theories. Could have at least 50 pages less. Very interesting following the theory, the lives and practices around two of the major contemporaneous economical theories (with political implications).
By Robert Cole

Since the 1930s, one clash has defined both academic macroeconomics and the economic policies of governments. On the left side are followers of John Maynard Keynes, who believe that government actions can and should smooth the destructive swings of business cycles. On the right are those who fear governments and believe in the self-correcting power of markets. They can be considered the friends of Friedrich von Hayek.

Nicholas Wapshott explores this fight in a new book. His account
Otto Lehto
A very polished, almost TOO polished, account of the intellectual battle between Keynes and Hayek.

I would recommend it, despite its obvious shortcomings (most notably its unscholarly tone and its unabashed America-centrism), as a pretty good journalistic, chronologically narrated summary of the basic elements of "John Maynard"'s and "Friedrich"'s contributions to economics - and even more of their influence on the American (and British) political debate, on which this book largely focuses.

The b
Want to know what the current day Keynes and Hayek controversy is all about? Reading Keynes and Hayek won't help.  The American political debate has only a passing relationship with the debate between the two.  This book explains what they were talking about, and how political and economic history got us from them to the Tea Party.
For conservatives concerned over the intellectual vacuity of the Republican Party and Tea Party, this book puts one in complete despair.  How do we get from the prese
CV Rick
Dec 09, 2011 CV Rick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The author obviously struggled to give Hayek equal billing in this book, despite the vacancy of application, thought and proof in the Austrian's theories. There wasn't actually a clash between the two - there was some letter exchanges and a bit of reaching out by Keynes to help a newcomer to the field. But Hayek was obviously deferential to the founder of modern economic theory. It was only later in Hayek's career, after Keynes was gone that the Austrian pretended to take Keynes to task by misch ...more
Edmond Dantes
Aug 29, 2016 Edmond Dantes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Testo Accessibile , ma non accessibilissimo, l'autore lascia troppo spazio, specialmente all'inizio, a citazioni di opere degli autori che, specialmente per Haywek non sono cristalline, anzi decisamente esoteriche.
Il Libro prende il giusto, anzi ottimo, abbrivio, con riferimento agli effetti delle idee degli autori sulle economie che li applicano.
Resta il dubbio, a distanza di tanti anni che, invece che di fronte ad economisti, scienza triste per definizione, ci si trovi di fronte a maestri mora
Richard Bravman
Mar 03, 2012 Richard Bravman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Highly recommended for anyone interested in understanding, in depth, the theoretical underpinnings of much of the political, economic and sociological debate that finds us in such gridlock today. It's not easy going, rather dense in some sections actually, but Wapshott effectively uses the human dimensions of the story to keep it moving. Well worth the effort expended in getting through it.
Kirk Houghton
Sep 29, 2015 Kirk Houghton rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
John Maynard Keynes was the heavyweight economist of the twentieth century – a Cambridge professor, Paris Peace Conference negotiator, architect of the post-war Bretton Woods system of fixed currencies, one of the brains behind the World Bank, best-selling author, and the inventor of Macro-Economics. As a member of the Bloomsbury group of ‘progressive’ intellectuals, he also made a fortune speculating on the commodity markets, and in 1936 produced the most influential economic study of the last ...more
Jun 07, 2017 Skarlett rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I have to give credit where credit is due: writing a book about two theories of economics that has readers on the edge of their seats is no easy task, and the author does just that! He also manages to tell both sides of the story in a balanced manner throughout the whole book, which is extremely well written and approachable - even for those who have not studied economics past the "Econ 101" level. Plus, even as someone who leans more towards the Hayekian side of things, that final quote gave me ...more
Don Pollock
May 30, 2017 Don Pollock rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Compares the theories of two great thinkers. The reader should have a general interest in economics
Chad Bullard
Sep 04, 2012 Chad Bullard rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
Recommended to Chad by: Heard author talk about on radio show
I have not had an economics class since I took Macroeconomics back in the late 80’s. So I felt I could use learning something about economics. “The Great Recession” of this last decade brought economics to the forefront of the news. I felt that I should learn something more about economics. I had heard about John Maynard Keynes before reading this book, but I was not familiar with Friedrich von Hayek. Milton Friedman was the economist I was most familiar with before reading this book. I did not ...more
Nov 11, 2012 Paul rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Keynes Hayek is a nicely written narrative on the 20th Century battle between economic ideas during a particularly turbulent period of world history following the Great Depression and through WWII. Economists J M Keynes and Frederick Hayek publicly debated the then imminent questions: "Where will rest equilibrium employment in a free market?", "What is the roll of interest rates in balancing savings and investment?", and, of course, "What is the roll of the federal government in the economy (if ...more
Michael Powe
Apr 21, 2013 Michael Powe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: economics
I must be among the few to describe as a "page turner" a book comparing the economic theories of John Maynard Keynes and Friedrich August Hayek. The two economists are stalking horses for the two competing conceptions of modern macroeconomics -- the top-down, fiscal policy theory of Keynes and the bottom-up, monetarist theory of Hayek. Still, guilty: this well-written, thoroughly researched book combines history, economics and character study. The combination results in a readable and fascinatin ...more
This book is an interesting discussion about the development of two lines of theory - one primarily economic (Keynes) and the other partially economic and partially epistemological (Hayek) that heavily influenced public policy discussions for the last century.

Keynes and his disciples and Hayek and his waged a holy war from the 1930s when Keynes first started to develop his general theory until 1946 when Keynes died. After that, until Hayek’s death in 1992, the point-counterpoint between the riva
Tiffoknee the 3rd Conner
My strange fixation with economics continues, quite frankly I hope it never ends. What started as a search for answers to questions about what I was read in the news circa the Lehman collapse and TARP has led me to the discovery of a field of intellectual inquiry I had always been quick to dismiss as beyond my grasp. OK, perhaps it is still beyond my grasp, but I have a better understanding of it, an educated citizen's awareness, if you will, and every time I learn something new about economics, ...more
Seth Spearman
Aug 10, 2012 Seth Spearman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: economics, politics
I really liked this book. I read a fair amount of economics and listen to podcasts (NPR Planet Money, EconTalk).

Much of the modern day discussions of political economy come down to Keynes vs. Hayek.

This review won't be very thorough or organized but here are some random thoughts.

The first thing to notes is that the sound-bite coverage of contemporary issues that goes for politics (and political media coverage) does not really reveal the depth or complexity of the issues. I believe that the "tr
Bruce Dayman
Nov 01, 2014 Bruce Dayman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good historical overview of the economic debate of our time: free market or interventionism? Should free markets dictate how economic policy is created or should the state address market failure? It shows how the key characters, Keynes and Hayek developed their theories of money. The relationship between Hayek and Ludwig von Mises, the main figure in the Austrian school, came into being and the dynamics of their relationship during the 1920s. What is most interesting is the relationship between ...more
Eugenio Gomez-acebo
Un libro con muchas luces y sombras. El libro es algo farragoso (expone batallas intelectuales sobre términos económicos pero sin pararse a describir en detalle la definición de estos términos) y un tanto sensacionalista (expone la lucha como un tremendo combate de ideas que, en vida de ambos, realmente no creo que fuera tal). Pero es fascinante porque, a la larga, el pensamiento de estos dos gigantes ha marcado (y marca hoy) la política económica y el debate económico de los países.

Lo primero
Oct 27, 2012 Joey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My only substantial beef with Wapshott's book is that I felt that he got bogged down a little too much in the substance of the disagreements Freidrich Hayek had with John Maynard Keynes in the 1930s and 1940s. I'm admittedly thickheaded when it comes to economics, but there were long passages about business cycles and forced savings and capital that left me scratching my head and wondering if all that detail was really necessary to the biographical flow of the story. Economics buffs might feel d ...more
Dec 04, 2011 Eric rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Nicholas Wapshott has written a terrific account of the professional rivalry between economics titans John Maynard Keynes and Friedrich Hayek over the role of government in the management of the economy (among other things). Pieced together from speeches and writings by both men and their contemporaries, and set against the backdrop of the key political and economic events they influenced, Wapshott's work is a compelling read and a strong contribution to the history of economic thought.

The basic
Feb 16, 2016 Paul rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wapshott tells the story of the 1930's debates between two powerhouse economists, John Maynard Keynes and Friedrich Hayek. They had diametrically opposed views of how the economy works and the book delightfully, and surprisingly, illustrates their debates, arguments, and personal attacks written through academic journals and proxied through their "disciples". The book also describes the effects of politically adopting one school of economic thought over another throughout modern history.

The auth
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Nicholas Wapshott is a journalist and the author of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher: A Political Marriage. A former senior editor at The Times of London and the New York Sun, he lives in New York.
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“There was a pretext, albeit slender, that might have prompted Hayek to reach out to Keynes: Keynes had succeeded Edgeworth as editor of the Economic Journal in 1911. But” 0 likes
“If an equilibrium was invariably elusive in the real world, Hayek argued, then the a priori assumptions that theoretical economists make about the operation of an economy, or a market, tending toward an equilibrium would always fall short. An equilibrium can be predicted only if the intentions of each of the participants is known, and that is impossible both in theory and in practice.” 0 likes
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