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Keynes and Money: A Man Obsessed?

Author: Benn Steil, Senior Fellow and Director of International Economics
July 19, 2013
PBS NewsHour

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The most renowned and revolutionary economist of his age, and the first-ever of the now-common celebrity variety, John Maynard Keynes spent a remarkable and colorful life as a scholar, journalist, polemicist, speculator and diplomat dedicated to one great intellectual challenge above all: unraveling the mysteries and combating the menaces (as he saw them) of the economic and social phenomenon of money.

Keynes' first academic article, "Recent Economic Events in India," published in 1909 when he was 26, marked the true beginning of his enduring intellectual love affair with matters of money. Generating "statistics of verification" linking Indian price movements with gold flows put him into a "tremendous state of excitement," he wrote to painter Duncan Grant. "Here are my theories -- will the statistics bear them out? Nothing except copulation is so enthralling."

His first experience in government, as an official in the U.K. India Office, led to the publication of his first book, "Indian Currency and Finance," in 1913. Two broad themes emerged that would become constants in Keynes' thinking.

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