Posted by: Dirk | February 11, 2008

(Book review) The Coming of Keynesianism to America

David Colander and Harry Landreth (1996) have compiled Conversations with the founders of Keynesian Economics. The people interviewed include Abba P. Lerner, Alvin H. Hansen, J. Kenneth Galbraith, Paul A. Samuelson, Evsey David Domar, Richard A. Musgrave and others. It is quite interesting how the history of the world evolved around Keynes’ General Theory, which explained the Great Depression. When it came out, the political response, Teddy Roosevelt’s New Deal, was already on the way. Keyserling reports that none of the policy guys ever read the General Theory, but still I think that without it it would be difficult to defend the government intervention. Maybe back then something had to be done, but after the Great Depression fiscal policy needed some legitimacy. The book is very readable, you can go through the interviews one of after another. I found Galbraith and Samuelson especially interesting, almost entertaining at times (Samuelson, p. 162: Just because I don’t understand the process of digestion, should I refuse my beefsteak?).

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