John Maynard Keynes

From Wikiquote
Jump to: navigation, search
John Maynard Keynes
A study of the history of opinion is a necessary preliminary to the emancipation of the mind.

John Maynard Keynes, 1st Baron Keynes of Tilton (5 June 188321 April 1946) was a British economist whose ideas, known as Keynesian economics, had a major impact on modern economic and political theory and on many governments' fiscal policies.

Quotes[edit]

I work for a Government I despise for ends I think criminal.
But this long run is a misleading guide to current affairs. In the long run we are all dead.
  • But this long run is a misleading guide to current affairs. In the long run we are all dead. Economists set themselves too easy, too useless a task if in tempestuous seasons they can only tell us that when the storm is long past the ocean is flat again.
    • A Tract on Monetary Reform (1923) Ch. 3
When the accumulation of wealth is no longer of high social importance, there will be great changes in the code of morals...
  • In truth, the gold standard is already a barbarous relic.
    • Monetary Reform (1924), p. 172
  • He was the nicest, and the only talented person I saw in all Berlin, except perhaps old Fuerstenberg … and Kurt Singer. And he was a Jew; and so was Fuerstenberg. And my dear Melchior is a Jew too. Yet if I lived there, I felt I might turn anti-Semite. For the poor Prussian is too slow and heavy on his legs for the other kind of Jews, the ones who are not imps but serving devils, with small horns, pitch forks, and oily tails. It is not agreeable to see civilization so under the ugly thumbs of its impure Jews who have all the money and the power and brains. I vote rather for the plump hausfraus and thick fingered Wandering Birds. But I am not sure that I wouldn’t even rather be mixed up with Lloyd George than with the German political Jews.
    • Notes after a meeting with Albert Einstein in 1926, The Collected Writings of John Maynard Keynes, Vol. 10, p. 383
  • This is a nightmare, which will pass away with the morning. For the resources of nature and men's devices are just as fertile and productive as they were. The rate of our progress towards solving the material problems of life is not less rapid. We are as capable as before of affording for everyone a high standard of life ... and will soon learn to afford a standard higher still. We were not previously deceived. But to-day we have involved ourselves in a colossal muddle, having blundered in the control of a delicate machine, the working of which we do not understand. The result is that our possibilities of wealth may run to waste for a time — perhaps for a long time.
    • Referring to economics and the Great Depression, “The Great Slump of 1930” (1930), in Essays in Persuasion
  • When the accumulation of wealth is no longer of high social importance, there will be great changes in the code of morals. We shall be able to rid ourselves of many of the pseudo-moral principles which have hag-ridden us for two hundred years, by which we have exalted some of the most distasteful of human qualities into the position of the highest virtues. We shall be able to afford to dare to assess the money-motive at its true value. The love of money as a possession — as distinguished from the love of money as a means to the enjoyments and realities of life — will be recognised for what it is, a somewhat disgusting morbidity, one of those semi-criminal, semi-pathological propensities which one hands over with a shudder to the specialists in mental disease ... But beware! The time for all this is not yet. For at least another hundred years we must pretend to ourselves and to everyone that fair is foul and foul is fair; for foul is useful and fair is not. Avarice and usury and precaution must be our gods for a little longer still. For only they can lead us out of the tunnel of economic necessity into daylight.
  • If economists could manage to get themselves thought of as humble, competent people on a level with dentists, that would be splendid.
    • "The Future" Ch. 5, Essays in Persuasion (1931)
Words ought to be a little wild for they are the assault of thoughts on the unthinking.
  • Most men love money and security more, and creation and construction less, as they get older.
    • "The Future", Essays in Persuasion (1931)

Listen to a recording of another user reading this quote:

  • Words ought to be a little wild, for they are the assault of thoughts on the unthinking.
    • New Statesman and Nation (15 July 1933)
  • The decadent international but individualistic capitalism in the hands of which we found ourselves after the war is not a success. It is not intelligent. It is not beautiful. It is not just. It is not virtuous. And it doesn't deliver the goods. In short we dislike it, and we are beginning to despise it. But when we wonder what to put in its place, we are extremely perplexed.
  • His peculiar gift was the power of holding continuously in his mind a purely mental problem until he had seen it through.
  • There is no harm in being sometimes wrong — especially if one is promptly found out.
    • Essays in Biography (1933)
  • Nothing mattered except states of mind, chiefly our own.
    • On the Cambridge Apostles of Cambridge University, in Essays in Biography (1933) Ch. 39; also later used in My Early Beliefs, a memoir he read to the Bloomsbury Group's Memoir Club in 1943.
To our generation Einstein has been made to become a double symbol — a symbol of the mind travelling in the cold regions of space, and a symbol of the brave and generous outcast, pure in heart and cheerful of spirit.
  • The boys, who cannot grow up to adult human nature, are beating the prophets of the ancient race — Marx, Freud, Einstein — who have been tearing at our social, personal and intellectual roots, tearing with an objectivity which to the healthy animal seems morbid, depriving everything, as it seems, of the warmth of natural feeling. What traditional retort have the schoolboys but a kick in the pants? ...
    To our generation Einstein has been made to become a double symbol — a symbol of the mind travelling in the cold regions of space, and a symbol of the brave and generous outcast, pure in heart and cheerful of spirit. Himself a schoolboy, too, but the other kind — with ruffled hair, soft hands and a violin. See him as he squats on Cromer beach doing sums, Charlie Chaplin with the brow of Shakespeare...
    So it is not an accident that the Nazi lads vent a particular fury against him. He does truly stand for what they most dislike, the opposite of the blond beast — intellectualist, individualist, supernationalist, pacifist, inky, plump... How should they know the glory of the free-ranging intellect and soft objective sympathy to whom money and violence, drink and blood and pomp, mean absolutely nothing? Yet Albert and the blond beast make up the world between them. If either cast the other out, life is diminished in its force. When the barbarians destroy the ancient race as witches, when they refuse to scale heaven on broomsticks, they may be dooming themselves to sink back into the clods which bore them.
    • On the Nazis; written in October 1933 three months before the death of his friend Carl Melchior, murdered in an anti-semitic attack in December 1933; Skidelsky (1992:487) quoting Collected Writings volume xxviii pages 21-22
Newton was not the first of the age of reason. He was the last of the magicians...
  • Newton was not the first of the age of reason. He was the last of the magicians, the last of the Babylonians and Sumerians, the last great mind that looked out on the visible and intellectual world with the same eyes as those who began to build our intellectual inheritance rather less than 10 000 years ago.
    • Address to the Royal Society Club (1942), as quoted in A Dictionary of Scientific Quotations (1977) by Alan L. MacKay, p.140
  • The old saying holds. Owe your banker £1000 and you are at his mercy; owe him £1 million and the position is reversed.
    • "Overseas Financial Policy in Stage III" (1945), Collect Writings 24:258; though Keynes here clearly cites this as an "old saying" a variant of this is also attributed to him:
  • If you owe your bank a hundred pounds, you have a problem. But if you owe a million, it has.
  • As quoted in The Economist (13 February 1982), p. 11
The day is not far off when the economic problem will take the back seat where it belongs...
  • The day is not far off when the economic problem will take the back seat where it belongs, and the arena of the heart and the head will be occupied or reoccupied, by our real problems — the problems of life and of human relations, of creation and behaviour and religion.
    • First Annual Report of the Arts Council (1945-1946)
  • They offer me neither food nor drink — intellectual nor spiritual consolation... [Conservatism] leads nowhere; it satisfies no ideal; it conforms to no intellectual standard, it is not safe, or calculated to preserve from the spoilers that degree of civilisation which we have already attained.
    • On the Conservative Party; Skidelsky (1992:231) quoting Collected Writings Volume IX page 296-297
  • There was an attraction at first that Mr Baldwin should not be clever. But when he forever sentimentalises about his own stupidity, the charm is broken.
    • Skidelsky (1992:232) quoting Keynes Papers PS/6
  • The book, as it stands, seems to me to be one of the most frightful muddles I have ever read, with scarcely a sound proposition in it beginning with page 45 [Hayek provided historical background up to page 45; after that came his theoretical model], and yet it remains a book of some interest, which is likely to leave its mark on the mind of the reader. It is an extraordinary example of how, starting with a mistake, a remorseless logician can end up in bedlam.
    • On Friedrich Hayek's Prices and Production, in Collected Writings, vol. XII, p. 252

The Economic Consequences of the Peace (1919)[edit]

Men will not always die quietly.


Full text online
  • The power to become habituated to his surroundings is a marked characteristic of mankind.
    • Chapter I, pg.3
  • The great events of history are often due to secular changes in the growth of population and other fundamental economic causes, which, escaping by their gradual character the notice of contemporary observers, are attributed to the follies of statesmen or the fanaticism of atheists.
    • Chapter II, Section I, pg.14-15
  • The disruptive powers of excessive national fecundity may have played a greater part in bursting the bonds of convention then either the power of ideas or the errors of autocracy.
    • Chapter II, Section I, pg.15
  • The immense accumulations of fixed capital which, to the great benefit of mankind, were built up during the half century before the war, could never have come about in a Society where wealth was divided equitably.
    • Chapter II, Section III, pg.19
  • The duty of "saving" became nine-tenths of virtue and the growth of the cake the object of true religion.
    • Chapter II, Section III, pg.20
  • Perhaps a day might come when there would be at last be enough to go round, and when posterity could enter into the enjoyment of our labors.
    • Chapter II, Section III, pg.21
  • He had one illusion — France; and one disillusion — mankind, including Frenchmen, and his colleagues not least.
  • The glory of the nation you love is a desirable end, — but generally to be obtained at your neighbor's expense.
    • Chapter III, pg.33
  • To see the British Prime Minister watching the company, with six or seven senses not available to ordinary men, judging character, motive, and subconscious impulse, perceiving what each was thinking and even what each was going to say next, and compounding with telepathic instinct the argument or appeal best suited to the vanity, weakness, or self-interest of his immediate auditor, was to realize that the poor President would be playing blind man's bluff in that party.
  • The future life of Europe was not their concern; its means of livelihood was not their anxiety. Their preoccupations, good and bad alike, related to frontiers and nationalities, to the balance of power, to imperial aggrandizements, to the future enfeeblement of a strong and dangerous enemy, to revenge, and to the shifting by the victors of their unbearable financial burdens on to the shoulders of the defeated.
    • Chapter IV, pg.56
  • The division of the spoils between the victors will also provide employment for a powerful office, whose doorsteps the greedy adventurers and jealous concession hunters of twenty or thirty nations will crowd and defile.
    • Chapter IV, Section I, pg.77
  • But the dreams of designing diplomats do not always prosper, and we must trust the future.
    • Chapter IV, Section III, pg.105
  • Men will not always die quietly.
    • Chapter VI, pg.228
  • Lenin is said to have declared that the best way to destroy the capitalist system was to debauch the currency. By a continuing process of inflation, governments can confiscate, secretly and unobserved, an important part of the wealth of their citizens. By this method they not only confiscate, but they confiscate arbitrarily; and, while the process impoverishes many, it actually enriches some. The sight of this arbitrary rearrangement of riches strikes not only at security, but at confidence in the equity of the existing distribution of wealth. Those to whom the system brings windfalls, beyond their deserts and even beyond their expectations or desires, become 'profiteers,' who are the object of the hatred of the bourgeoisie, whom the inflationism has impoverished, not less than of the proletariat. As the inflation proceeds and the real value of the currency fluctuates wildly from month to month, all permanent relations between debtors and creditors, which form the ultimate foundation of capitalism, become so utterly disordered as to be almost meaningless; and the process of wealth-getting degenerates into a gamble and a lottery.
    Lenin was certainly right. There is no subtler, no surer means of overturning the existing basis of society than to debauch the currency. The process engages all the hidden forces of economic law on the side of destruction, and does it in a manner which not one man in a million is able to diagnose.
    • Chapter VI, pg.235-236
  • Perhaps it is historically true that no order of society ever perishes save by its own hand.
    • Chapter VI, pg.238
  • Economic privation proceeds by easy stages, and so long as men suffer it patiently the outside world cares little.
    • Chapter VI, pg.250
  • The forces of the nineteenth century have run their course and are exhausted.
    • Chapter VII, pg.254
  • If we aim deliberately at the impoverishment of Central Europe, vengeance, I dare predict, will not limp.
    • Chapter VII, Section 1, pg.268

A Short View of Russia (1925)[edit]

Originally three essays for the Nation and Athenaeum, later published separately as A Short View of Russia (1925), then edited down for publication in Essays in Persuasion (1931)
  • Leninism is a combination of two things which Europeans have kept for some centuries in different compartments of the soul — religion and business. We are shocked because the religion is new, and contemptuous because the business, being subordinated to the religion instead of the other way round, is highly inefficient.
  • Comfort and habits let us be ready to forgo, but I am not ready for a creed which does not care how much it destroys the liberty and security of daily life, which uses deliberately the weapons of persecution, destruction and international strife. How can I admire a policy which finds a characteristic expression in spending millions to suborn spies in every family and group at home, and to stir up trouble abroad?
  • How can I adopt a creed which, preferring the mud to the fish, exalts the boorish proletariat above the bourgeois and the intelligentsia who, with whatever faults, are the quality in life and surely carry the seeds of all human advancement?
  • I can be influenced by what seems to me to be justice and good sense; but the class war will find me on the side of the educated bourgeoisie.

The End of Laissez-faire (1926)[edit]

Full text online
Marxian Socialism must always remain a portent to the historians of Opinion — how a doctrine so illogical and so dull can have exercised so powerful and enduring an influence over the minds of men, and, through them, the events of history.
  • I do not know which makes a man more conservative — to know nothing but the present, or nothing but the past.
    • Ch. 1
  • Marxian Socialism must always remain a portent to the historians of Opinion — how a doctrine so illogical and so dull can have exercised so powerful and enduring an influence over the minds of men, and, through them, the events of history.
    • Ch. 3
  • For my part I think that capitalism, wisely managed, can probably be made more efficient for attaining economic ends than any alternative system yet in sight, but that in itself it is in many ways extremely objectionable.
    • Ch. 5

Essays In Biography (1933)[edit]

  • I have sought with some touches of detail to bring out the solidarity and historical continuity of the High Intelligentsia of England, who have built up the foundations of our thought in the two and a half centuries, since Locke, in his Essay Concerning Human Understanding, wrote the first modern English book. I relate below the amazing progeny of Sir George Villiers. But the lineage of the High Intelligentsia is hardly less interbred and spiritually inter-mixed. Let the Villiers Connection fascinate the monarch or the mob and rule, or seem to rule, passing events. There is also a pride of sentiment to claim spiritual kinship with the Locke Connection and that long English line, intellectually and humanly linked with one another, to which the names in my second section belong. If not the wisest, yet the most truthful of men. If not the most personable, yet the queerest and sweetest. If not the most practical, yet of the purest public conscience. If not of high artistic genius, yet the most solid and sincere accomplishment within many of the fields which are ranged by the human mind.
    • Preface, p. viii
  • If Mr. Lloyd George had no good qualities, no charms, no fascinations, he would not be dangerous. If he were not a syren, we need not fear the whirlpools.
    • Mr. Lloyd George, p. 35
  • All the political parties alike have their origins in past ideas and not in new ideas — and none more conspicuously so than the Marxists.
  • The next move is with the head, and fists must wait.
    • Trotsky On England, p. 91
  • Adam Smith and Malthus and Ricardo! There is something about these three figures to evoke more then ordinary sentiments from us their children in the spirit.
    • Robert Malthus, p. 148
  • The study of economics does not seem to require any specialised gifts of an unusually high order.
    • Alfred Marshall, p. 170
  • Jevons saw the kettle boil and cried out with the delighted voice of a child; Marshall too had seen the kettle boil and sat down silently to build an engine.
    • Alfred Marshall, p. 188
  • Economists must leave to Adam Smith alone the glory of the Quarto, must pluck the day, fling pamphlets into the wind, write always sub specie temporis, and achieve immortality by accident, if at all.
    • Alfred Marshall, p. 212
  • The general theory of economic equilibrium was strengthened and made effective as an organon of thought by two powerful subsidiary conceptions — the Margin and Substitution. The notion of the Margin was extended beyond Utility to describe the equilibrium point in given conditions of any economic factor which can be regarded as capable of small variations about a given value,or in its functional relation to a given value.
    • Alfred Marshall, p. 223
  • There were endless possibilities, not out of reach.
    • Alfred Marshall, p. 253
  • The atomic hypothesis which had worked so splendidly in Physics breaks down in Physics.
    • Francis Ysidro Edgeworth, p. 286
  • Logic, like lyrical poetry, is no employment for the middle-aged,
    • F. P. Ramsey, p.296
  • I don't feel the least humble before the vastness of the heavens.
    • F. P. Ramsey, p.310

The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money (1935)[edit]

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.
  • 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.
    • Preface
    • Paraphrased variant: The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as in escaping from old ones.
  • Nevertheless the theory of output as a whole, which is what the following book purports to provide, is much more easily adapted to the conditions of a totalitarian state, than is the theory of the production and distribution of a given output produced under conditions of free competition and a large measure of laissez-faire.
    • Preface to the German Edition
  • The classical theorists resemble Euclidean geometers in a non-Euclidean world who, discovering that in experience straight lines apparently parallel often meet, rebuke the lines for not keeping straight—as the only remedy for the unfortunate collisions which are occurring. Yet, in truth, there is no remedy except to thro over the axiom of parallels and to work out a non-Euclidean geometry.
    • Book 1, Chapter 2, Section 4, p. 16
  • All production is for the purpose of ultimately satisfying a consumer.
    • Book 2, Chapter 5, Section 1, p. 46
  • Obstinacy can bring only a penalty and no reward.
    • Book 3, Chapter 9, Section 2, p. 111
  • Thus public works even of doubtful utility may pay for themselves over and over again at a time of severe unemployment, if only from the diminished cost of relief expenditure.
    • Book 3, chapter 10, Section 5, p. 127
  • Pyramid-building, earthquakes, even wars may serve to increase wealth, if the education of our statesmen on the principles of the classical economics stands in the way of anything better.
    • Book 3, Chapter 10, Section 6
  • If the Treasury were to fill old bottles with banknotes, bury them at suitable depths in disused coal mines which are then filled up to the surface with town rubbish, and leave it private enterprise on well tried principals of laissez-faire to dig the notes up again (the right to do so being obtained, of course, by tendering for leases of the note-bearing territory), there need be no more unemployment and, with the help of the repercussions, the real income of the community, and its capital wealth also, would probably become a good deal greater than it actually is.
    • Book 3, Chapter 10, Section 6, p. 129
  • Two pyramids, two masses for the dead, are twice as good as one; but not so two railways from London to York.
    • Book 3, Chapter 10, Section 6, p. 131
  • It would be foolish, in forming our expectations, to attach great weight to matters which are very uncertain.
    • Book 4, Chapter 12, Section 2, p. 148
  • "professional investment may be likened to those newspaper competitions in which the competitors have to pick out the six prettiest faces from a hundred photographs, the prize being awarded to the competitor whose choice most nearly corresponds to the average preferences of the competitors as a whole;"
    • Book 4, Chapter 12, Section 5, p. 156
  • Worldly wisdom teaches that it is better for reputation to fail conventionally than to succeed unconventionally.
    • Book 4, Chapter 12, Section 5, p. 158
  • Most, probably, of our decisions to do something positive, the full consequences of which will be drawn out over many days to come, can only be taken as the result of animal spirits—a spontaneous urge to action rather than inaction, and not as the outcome of a weighted average of quantitative benefits multiplied by quantitative probabilities.
    • Book 4, Chapter 12, Section 7, p. 161
    • Paraphrased variant: The markets are moved by animal spirits, and not by reason.
The social object of skilled investment should be to defeat the dark forces of time and ignorance which envelope our future.
  • It is generally agreed that casinos should, in the public interest, be inaccessible and expensive. And perhaps the same is true of Stock Exchanges.
    • Book 4, Chapter 12, Section 6, p. 159
  • Americans are apt to be unduly interested in discovering what average opinion believes average opinion to be; and this national weakness finds its nemesis in the stock market.
    • Book 4, Chapter 12, Section 6, p. 159
  • The introduction of a substantial Government transfer tax on all transactions might prove the most serviceable reform available,with a view to mitigating the predominance of speculation in the United States.
    • Book 4, Chapter 12, Section 6, p. 160 (Tobin Tax?)
  • The social object of skilled investment should be to defeat the dark forces of time and ignorance which envelope our future.
    • Book 4, Chapter 12, Section 5, p. 155
  • I expect to see the State, which is in a position to calculate the marginal efficiency of capital goods on long views and on the basis of the general social advantage, taking an ever greater responsibility for directly organising investment;
    • Book 4, Chapter 12, Section 8, p. 164
  • "To dig holes in the ground", paid for out of savings, will increase, not only employment, but the real national dividend of useful goods and services. It is not reasonable, however, that a sensible community should be content to remain dependent on such fortuitous and often wasteful mitigations when once we understand the influences upon which effective demand depends.
    • Book 4, Chapter 16, Section 3, p. 220
  • If I am right in supposing it to be comparatively easy to make capital-goods so abundant that the marginal efficiency of capital is zero, this may be the most sensible way of gradually getting rid of many of the objectionable features of capitalism.
    • Book 4, Chapter 16, Section 4, p. 221
  • Thus those reformers, who look for a remedy by creating artificial carrying-costs for the money through the device of requiring legal-tender currency to be periodically stamped at a prescribed cost in order to retain its quality as money,or in analogous ways, have been on the right track; and the practical value of their proposals deserves consideration.
    • Book 4, Chapter 17, Section 3, p. 234
  • We are, as I have said, one equation short.
    • Book 5, Appendix to Chapter 19, p. 276
  • For the importance of money essentially flows from its being a link between the present and the future.
    • Book 5, Chapter 21, Section 1, p. 293
  • Too large a proportion of recent "mathematical" economics are mere concoctions, as imprecise as the initial assumptions they rest on, which allow the author to lose sight of the complexities and interdependencies of the real world in a maze of pretentious and unhelpful symbols.
    • Book 5, Chapter 21,Section 3, p. 298
  • Once doubt begins it spreads rapidly.
    • Book 6, Chapter 22, Section 2, p. 317
  • We reach a condition where there is a shortage of houses, but where nevertheless no one can afford to live in the houses that there are.
    • Book 6, Chapter 22, Section 3, p. 322
  • The right remedy for the trade cycle is not to be found in abolishing booms and thus keeping us permanently in a semi-slump; but in abolishing slumps and thus keeping us permanently in a quasi-boom.
    • Book 6, Chapter 22, Section 3, p. 322
  • I am myself impressed by the great social advantages of increasing the stock of capital until it ceases to be scarce.
    • Book 6, Chapter 22, Section 4, p. 325
  • Thus, the weight of my criticism is directed against the inadequacy of the theoretical foundations of the laissez-faire doctrine upon which I was brought up and for many years I taught;
    • Book 6, Chapter 23, Section 2, p. 339
  • Never in history was there a method devised of such efficacy for setting each country's advantage at variance with its neighbours' as the international gold(or, formerly, silver) standard.
    • Book 6, Chapter 23, Section 3, p. 349
  • The destruction of the inducement to invest by an excessive liquidity-preference was the outstanding evil, the prime impediment to the growth of wealth, in the ancient and medieval worlds.
    • Book 6, Chapter 23, Section 5, p. 351
  • I believe that the future will learn more from the spirit of Gesell than from that of Marx.
    • Book 6, Chapter 23, Section 6, p. 355
  • The idea behind stamped money is sound.
    • Book 6, Chapter 23, Section 5, p. 357
  • The outstanding faults of the economic society in which we live are its failure to provide for full employment and its arbitrary and inequitable distribution of wealth and incomes.
    • Book 6, Chapter 24, Section 1, p. 372
  • It is better that a man should tyrannise over his bank balance than over his fellow-citizens and whilst the former is sometimes denounced as being but a means to the latter, sometimes at least it is an alternative.
    • Ch. 24 "Concluding Notes" p. 374
  • But whilst there may be intrinsic reasons for the scarcity of land, there are no intrinsic reasons for the scarcity of capital.
    • Book 6, Chapter 24, Section 2, p. 376
  • The ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than is commonly understood. Indeed the world is ruled by little else. Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influence, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist. Madmen in authority, who hear voices in the air, are distilling their frenzy from some academic scribbler of a few years back. I am sure that the power of vested interests is vastly exaggerated compared with the gradual encroachment of ideas.
    • Ch. 24 "Concluding Notes" p. 383
  • It is ideas, not vested interests, which are dangerous for good or evil.
    • Ch. 24 "Concluding Notes" p. 384

Attributed[edit]

When my information changes, I alter my conclusions. What do you do, sir?
  • The avoidance of taxes is the only intellectual pursuit that still carries any reward.
    • As quoted in A Dictionary of Scientific Quotations (1977) by Alan L. MacKay, p.140
  • Education is the inculcation of the incomprehensible into the ignorant by the incompetent.
    • From hearer's memory in Jewish Frontier, vol. 29 (1962).
    • Alternate version: Education: the inculcation of the incomprehensible into the indifferent by the incompetent.
      • As quoted in Infinite Riches: Gems from a Lifetime of Reading (1979) by Leo Calvin Rosten, p. 165
  • I don't really start until I get my proofs back from the printers. Then I can begin my serious writing.
    • As quoted in The Guardian (8 June 1983). p. 82
  • When my information changes, I alter my conclusions. What do you do, sir?
    • Reply to a criticism during the Great Depression of having changed his position on monetary policy, as quoted in "The Keynes Centenary" by Paul Samuelson, in The Economist Vol. 287 (1983), p. 19; later in The Collected Scientific Papers of Paul Samuelson, Volume 5 (1986), p. 275; also in "Understanding Political Development: an Analytic Study" (1987) by Myron Weiner, Samuel P. Huntington and Gabriel Abraham Almond, p. xxiv; this has also been paraphrased as "When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?"
  • Capitalism is “the astonishing belief that the nastiest motives of the nastiest men somehow or other work for the best results in the best of all possible worlds.”
    • Attributed by Sir George Schuster, Christianity and human relations in industry (1951), p. 109
    • Recent variant: Capitalism is the astounding belief that the most wickedest of men will do the most wickedest of things for the greatest good of everyone.
      • As quoted in Moving Forward: Programme for a Participatory Economy (2000) by Michael Albert, p. 128
I should have drunk more champagne.
  • Successful investing is anticipating the anticipations of others.
    • As quoted in Isms (2006) by Gregory Bergman, p.105
  • Markets can remain irrational longer than you can remain solvent.
    • As quoted in When Genius Failed (2000) by Roger Lowenstein, p. 123; actually "Markets can remain irrational a lot longer than you and I can remain solvent." from A. Gary Shilling, Forbes (1993) v. 151, iss. 4, pg. 236.
  • I should have drunk more champagne.
    • Last Words, as quoted in Ben Trovato's Art of Survival (2007) by Ben Trovato, p. 196
  • If farming were to be organised like the stock market, a farmer would sell his farm in the morning when it was raining, only to buy it back in the afternoon when the sun came out.
  • We will not have any more crashes in our time.
    • Conversation with Felix Somary in 1927, reported in Felix Somary, The Raven of Zurich, London: C. Hurst, 1986 (1960), 146-7.


Misattributed[edit]

  • It is better to be roughly right than precisely wrong.
    • Not attributed to Keynes until after his death. The original quote comes from Carveth Read and is:
    • It is better to be vaguely right than exactly wrong.
      • Logic, deductive and inductive (1898), p. 351 [1]

Quotes about Keynes[edit]

  • Why does Camelot lie in ruins? Intellectual error of monumental proportion has been made, and not exclusively by the politicians. Error also lies squarely with the economists. The "academic scribbler" who must bear substantial responsibility is Lord Keynes...
    • James M. Buchanan, in The Consequences of Keynes written with Richard E. Wagner and John Burton (1978)
  • We're all Keynesians now.
    • Milton Friedman, Time cover story, 31 December 1965
    • Time published a letter from Friedman 4 February 1966 saying: Sir: You quote me as saying: “We are all Keynesians now.” The quotation is correct, but taken out of context. As best I can recall it, the context was: “In one sense, we are all Keynesians now; in another, nobody is any longer a Keynesian.” The second half is at least as important as the first.
    • Often misattributed to President Richard Nixon.
  • Did Keynes create a sense of hope? Oh, unquestionably. There was this breath of hope and optimism, and I came back from Cambridge to find a whole group of people here who had also read The General Theory.
  • Keynes himself had in his day been known to make some fairly radical noises, for instance, calling for the complete elimination of that class of people who lived off other people's debts-"the euthanasia of the rentier," as he put it-though all he really meant by this was their elimination through a gradual reduction of interest rates. As in much of Keynesianism, this was much less radical than it first appeared. Actually, it was thoroughly in the great tradition of political economy, hearkening back to Adam Smith's ideal of a debtless utopia but especially David Ricardo's condemnation of landlords as parasites, their very existence inimical to economic growth.
  • No one in our age was cleverer than Keynes nor made less attempt to conceal it.
  • The consequences of Mr. Keynes's attack upon orthodoxy are very far reaching. First, it cuts the ground from under the pretended justification of inequality, and allows us to see the monstrous absurdity of our social system with a fresh eye.
    • Joan Robinson, An Essay On Marxian Economics, Chapter VIII, p. 67
  • There are still many people in America who regard depressions as acts of God. I think Keynes proved that the responsibility for these occurences does not rest with Providence.
  • Keynes's intellect was the sharpest and clearest that I have ever known. When I argued with him, I felt that I took my life in my hands, and I seldom emerged without feeling something of a fool. I was sometimes inclined to feel that so much cleverness must be incompatible with depth, but I do not think that this feeling was justified.

External links[edit]

Wikipedia
Wikipedia has an article about:
Wikisource has original works written by or about:
Commons
Wikimedia Commons has media related to: