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The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money

(The Collected Writings of John Maynard Keynes #7)

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  4,853 ratings  ·  185 reviews
Distinguished British economist John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946) set off a series of movements that drastically altered the ways in which economists view the world. In his most important work, The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money (1936), Keynes critiqued the laissez-faire policies of his day, particularly the proposition that a normally functioning market e ...more
Paperback, 403 pages
Published May 1st 1997 by Prometheus Books (first published November 30th 1935)
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Lee Lance Look for "Introduction to the Theory of Employment" by Joan Robinson. Robinson (among others) worked with Keynes to develop the General Theory, and sh…moreLook for "Introduction to the Theory of Employment" by Joan Robinson. Robinson (among others) worked with Keynes to develop the General Theory, and she is good at explaining it. Robinson's book is intended for the general reader, not the community of economists as Keynes' book was.(less)

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One of the hardest things in the world for anyone do to is to change their mindset. Keynes, who suckled at the teats of classical economists, took off the emerald glass spectacles he was given to wear, and took a long hard look at the Depression-era. He had in his life also variously been a businessman and a fairly successful speculator. What he saw was that the theories he taught and had been taught could not explain what was happening.

In a teeny nutshell, classical economics based itself on s
May 17, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: economics
Bad writing, confused thinking, pernicious policies.

I first encountered the name Keynes when reading a Time magazine article in around 1975 about West Germany's chancellor Helmut Schmidt. As I recall, the article was a complimentary one, in which Schmidt was portrayed as an intellectual technocrat who favored the intellectual and technocratic economics of John Maynard Keynes. I got the impression that Keynesian economics was something advanced and new, a sophisticated modern theory to be used by
May 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I think most of these reviews are Ron Paul supporters that don't really understand monetary theory AT ALL. No problem with that however, other than they project their own new version of what Adam Smith said. If they understood Adam Smith and John Maynard Keynes, they would realize that they espouse economic theories, not ideologies on the role of government.

Keynes doesn't disagree with at all Adam Smith; he expands on Adam Smith's theories (which were a good 100 years prior). Keynes and Smith ar
Roy Lotz
It is my firm conviction that, if something’s worth doing, it’s worth doing even when you’re badly under-qualified to do it. So here I go!

Few books have inspired as much controversy as John Maynard Keynes' magnum opus. Revered on the left, abhorred on the right, the book has been dragged back into the public spotlight after the previous economic crisis. I’ve heard some economists discuss this book in a tone normally reserved for the Bible, and others in a tone normally reserved for Twilight.
Feb 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
5 stars for the ideas and theories, which are undeniably right (even thought it's impossible to convince the people who read Atlas Shrugged as though it's real). But 3 stars because it is incredibly dense and hard to read. I got through it, but only because I knew what the theory was already and I just wanted to make sure I hadn't missed anything. But Keynes was speaking against Ricardo and others so he was fighting old battles. ...more
Czarny Pies
Nov 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Grad students in economics. Undergraduates should stick with Samuelson.
Recommended to Czarny by: Rober Barber
The importance of this book rivals Das Kapital. Those who follow Marx have founded Communist regimes. Everywhere else, governments have developed systems of national accounts to conform to his proposed system of national accounts with headings such as GNP, GDP, etc.

One major difference is that Das Kapital is somewhat utopian and left its followers no clear way to implement its recommendations. The works of other writers notably Lenin and Stalin were required to make Marxism function in a real wo
Michael Quinn
May 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
It's a brutal read, especially the middle third. With an intense focus on the fundamental nature of the three factors mentioned in the title, it's easy to get bored and distracted quickly.

Nonetheless, reading the General Theory reminds me of watching Citizen Kane. The book has so thoroughly reshaped economics in its image that it's hard to recognize how revolutionary it truly is. This exacerbates the problems of the middle third, since not only is it dry and technical, it seems pretty obvious no
Mar 15, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
During my high school years I followed courses in economics. Ever since, my interest has been sparked to follow macro-economic trends and from time to time read some classic economic works. I've read Smith, Ricardo, Hayek and now Keynes.

I haven't finished the book - I quit reading after part 3. This book is written in such an incomprehensive way - clearly outdated from an educational perspective - that one can just as well study the chapters on Keynes in modern day economics textbooks. This way
Paige  McLoughlin
I learned Keynesian economics in my macroeconomics course I took as an undergrad. It is the leftwing side of mainstream economics and was the dominant model in the post-WWII era until the seventies when we got Hayek and Friedman and neoliberalism which ruined a lot of lives. I vacillate between Keynesian and soft-Marxist outlooks. Bouncing between Left-liberal social democratic outlook and sometimes more of Democratic Socialist stance. This means I haven't got it figured out and remain somewhat ...more
Oct 12, 2011 rated it did not like it
The General Theory of Employment, Interest & Money has turned economic science upside down where the undertone and ideas have inherently defied basic economic principles. Unfortunately, the book still influences monetary and fiscal policy. It also has invaded the economic science in general. Economics is not driven by mathematics or models; it is driven by human action. Overall, it was merely an interesting read just on the basis of understanding where Keynes develops his theory.
Sep 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This certainly is not a book for a quick enjoyable read. I am a Keynesian in my economic beliefs as a result of this book. As we are continuing the crazy response to the current economic crisis, I highly recommend this book to everyone who cares about money and our economy.
Katelyn Jenkins
The Shakespeare of Economics.
Otto Lehto
Feb 15, 2019 rated it liked it
Brilliant yet obscure; competent yet dilettantesque; visionary yet misguided... There is a lot to unpack in The General Theory.

The book is written with a heavy-handed jargon that freely mixes established economic terminology with Keynes's own innovations. I am firmly of the opinion that technical jargon and mathematical expression are important servants of economic analysis that should never be allowed to become masters. In Keynes's case, the consequence of the style is not clarity, but a needl
The theory describes how crises, booms, and unemployment are inevitable aspects of market economies. What Keynes points out, is that the free hand of the market does not necessarily provide stability and fairness. This led many to believe that Keynes’s work was a critique of capitalism. It was not, even though he strongly advocates for economic intervention, his ideas were rather a showdown with the mainstream misinterpretations of economics at the time. Download a public domain version here: ht ...more
Jackson Cyril
Nov 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I shan't comment on the majority of the work which, as Keynes observes, is written for the professional economist. Criticism of those sections of the book when Keynes soars to heights of advanced mathematics I will defer to those better qualified for the task. I read this book primarily to study the moral basis upon which this work rested; indeed, it was upon this moral foundation -- consisting largely of the moral maxims of the 19th century classical liberals (at list to which Marx at times als ...more
First, this is a really difficult book to get through because Keynes was writing for professional economists, in the 1930s, in Britain. So his style is not exactly user friendly for the casual reader.

However, Keynes' basic idea about how to control the inevitable fluctuations of a capitalist market are really important, particularly given the global recession of 2008 (which saw a resurgence of interest in Keynes, though I would argue that neoliberal economics remain deeply entrenched in global e
Apr 29, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a well written treatise on political economics by the English economist Keynes. However , it is no easy read by any means. It’s very mathematically dense and very dry at times, but I had to give it 3/5 because of its significance on modern economics even though I really didn’t enjoy reading this at all.
Nov 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
My reactions:

1. This work represents a critical footing to the foundation underlying modern economics. That said, it's interesting how long Adam Smith's perspectives took to germinate into Keynes' writing, nearly 165 years. Even this work, though, has an unrefined feel to it, from some of the basic assumptions Keynes makes (regarding negative interest rates, for one) to his use of language.

2. Given its importance to our social and political conversations, I'm surprised this was not mandatory rea
Sep 14, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: economics
Just as warned. This book is the most jargon-laden, badly-outlined book of economics, I've ever read. (I've always agreed with the school of rhetoric which said: if you can't write about it,you are not thinking clearly, but back to Keynes.) If you make it through the first three chapters, he actually starts explaining himself a little. Then we get to the idea that a post-industrial society must consume and consume and save nothing. Keynes is the anti-thrift man. Do not save, or mend your old thi ...more
Rick Teestsel
Apr 22, 2016 rated it did not like it
Keynes' writing style is an atrocity. He is constantly making reference to things he will discuss later, or things he covered hundred pages earlier, and he is forever obfuscating and torturing his meaning. To wit, " may be useful to make clear which elements in the economic system we usually take as given..." That passage is on page 245.

Here's another fave,"But an increase (or decrease) in the rate of investment will have to carry with it and increase (or decrease) in the rate of consumptio
J Roberts
Aug 09, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: economics
This is the type of book that needs to have a class attached to it. While I enjoyed it on my own, I would love to have a professor explain in detail more of the concepts inside. Basically, this work is the foundation of economics for the eighty years. The case is brilliantly made and illustrated, but as I mentioned, it is very in depth. This is why the author has so many detractors. If you read Capitalism and Freedom by Milton Friedman side by side with this work, people will choose Capitalism o ...more
Jan 21, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
A book that George the second should read. One of the key elements of his argument to me is the "crazy" premise that rich people save money at a greater rate than poor people. Attacks alot of neoclassical theories in a very intuitive way. The question that remains, for the reader, is what does our government do about this in terms of policy, regulation and implementation. Whether or not you agree with the entirety of Keynes conclusions or arguments is irrelevant. This is a very important book. ...more
Jan 07, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A tour de force of revolutionary Economic thinking, 30s style. A little too complicated to fully comprehend unless you are studying Economics though. Nonetheless a truly groundbreaking work which taught us how to get out of a Depression and stay out. Shame the Chancellor hasn't read it.

Still the style of the book is fun. A bit stiff as you would expect from a pre-sixties academic work but makes repeated efforts to be less stuffy and to reach out. Near the end, Keynes even breaks into song.
Apr 25, 2014 rated it liked it
Absolutely everyone needs to read this book, particularly chapters 25 and 26 and his remarks on Silvio Gesell The Natural Economic Order vs. Marx Capital, Vol 1: A Critical Analysis of Capitalist Production.
5 nov.12015 HE
Rob Roy
Oct 24, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This is a difficult read, especially since the last course in economics I took was over 40 years ago. The math is pretty well beyond me as well. Nonetheless, there is valuable insight to be gained here. This book is the basis for the economic system abandoned in 1981,that may well have prevented where we are now.
Guy Cranswick
Jan 10, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Even for a non economist reader the writing here is sharp and lucid. Keynes's mind, his education come through in the clarity of his prose, free of jargon and stupid management speak, that academic economists use today. ...more
Josh Friedlander
"Any layman," wrote Paul Samuelson (himself the author of a much clearer economics primer), "who, beguiled by the author's previous reputation, bought [A General Theory] was cheated of his five shillings." I would have preferred to have found this quote before reading this book, but the introduction to my edition does warn that this is aimed at trained economists. Much of it went over my head, but I'll summarise the points that I got.

Keynes' starting point is the classically liberal economic tra
Jul 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Arguably one of the most important books written on political economy in the 20th century, The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money by John Maynard Keynes is no easy read. Thus, why it took me a number of years to finally finish the book, however, having done so, I feel I have a more grounded understanding of his arguments. As opposed to summaries, whether written or verbal, that I had received from others (professors, media, and friends) over the years. Keynes, by trade and educati ...more
Kumail Akbar
“The ideas which are here expressed so laboriously are extremely simple and should be obvious. The difficulty lies, not in the new ideas, but in escaping from the old ones, which ramify, for those brought up as most of us have been, into every corner of our minds.”

Reading Keynes’ magnum opus today likely feels quite different from what it must have a little less than a century ago when he first wrote about them. This is because Keynes ideas have shaped the economic landscape like no one else has
Teo Ljubicic
Aug 04, 2020 rated it liked it
This isn't an easy read. The book is hard to understand and it's difficult to fully grasp the meaning of some statements due to the many complex frases, words and economic indicators. As someone already pointed out, you can learn all of this much more easily in other university literature and textbooks. Nontheless it's a very important book and with it Keynes set the foundation to modern macroeconomics we know today. Reading some stuff in the book was really stunning knowing it was written almos ...more
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John Maynard Keynes, 1st Baron Keynes (CB, FBA), was a British economist particularly known for his influence in the theory and practice of modern macroeconomics.

Keynes married Russian ballerina Lydia Lopokova in 1925.

NB: Not to be confused with his father who also was an economist. See John Neville Keynes.

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