John Maynard Keynes was a British economist whose advocacy of government-managed economies helped shape capitalism in the 20th century. The son of Cambridge economist and logician John Neville Keynes, Maynard spent his career among England's elite. He was part of Virginia Woolf
's so-called Bloomsbury Group -- intellectual aesthetes who flouted philosophical and sexual conventions -- he taught at Cambridge, he wrote and edited economic journals, and he played important roles for the British Treasury in both world wars. He became famous after World War I with The Economic Consequences of Peace
, his 1919 critique of the Versailles Peace Conference. (He thought the harsh reparations demanded of Germany would lead to economic instability -- and they did.) His 1936 book, General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money
, made him the most famous and influential economist since Adam Smith
. Keynes's notion that governments should intervene in times of market distress eclipsed Smith's laissez-faire
capitalism and has influenced Western democracies since the 1930s. At the close of World War II Keynes was a key player in the formation of an international banking system. His general theories about managing free markets on a global scale are considered the foundation of macroeconomics.