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John Maynard Keynes, Baron Keynes of Tilton

Departure from Classical Economics

Keynes's departure from classical concepts of laissez-faire dated from the mid-1920s, when he formulated the Liberal party's program to promote employment by a program of government spending on public works. Keynes came to believe that such a program would increase national purchasing power as well as foster employment in complementary industries. For the sake of full employment Keynes also modified his classical belief in international free trade. His ideas, based on large-scale government economic planning, are best expressed in his chief work, The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money (1936). Coming at a time when many nations had been racked by depressed economies, the book offered a sharp critique of laissez-faire economic policies and argued that central government needed to step in, particularly during periods of chronic unemployment. Other works by Keynes from this period are the Tract on Monetary Reform (1923) and the Treatise on Money (1930).

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The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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