Must-read: John Maynard Keynes (1923): “A Tract on Monetary Reform”

Must-Read: John Maynard Keynes (1923): A Tract on Monetary Reform: “One is often warned that a scientific treatment of currency questions…

…is possible because the banking world is intellectually incapable of understanding its own problems…. I do not believe it…. If the new ideas… are sound and right, I do not doubt that sooner or later they will prevail. I dedicate this book, humbly and without permission, to the Governors and Court of the Bank of England, who now and for there future has a much more difficult and anxious task entrusted to them than in former days…


It is not safe or fair to combine the social organization developed during the nineteenth century (and still retained) with a laisser-faire policy towards the value of money…. we must make it a prime object of deliberate State policy that the standard of value… be kept stale… adjusting in other ways the redistribution of the national wealth if… inheritance and… accumulation have drained too great a proportion… into the spending control of the inactive….

We see… rising prices and falling prices each have their characteristic disadvantage…. Inflation… means Injustice to individuals… particularly to investors: and is therefore unfavorable to saving [and investment in capital]…. Deflation… is… disastrous to employment…. Inflation is unjust and Deflation is inexpedient. Of the two perhaps Deflation is, if we rule out exaggerated inflations such as that of Germany, the worse; because it is worse, in an impoverished world, to provoke unemployment than to disappoint the rentier.

But it is not necessary that we should weigh one evil against the other. It is easier to agree that both are evils to be shunned. The Individualistic Capitalism of to-day, precisely because it entrusts saving to the individual investor and production to the individual employer, presumes a stable measuring-rod of value, and cannot be efficient–perhaps cannot survive–without one.

?For these grave causes we must free ourselves from the deep distrust which exists against allowing the regulation of the standard of value to be the subject of deliberate decision

May 9, 2016


Brad DeLong
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