Robert Skidelsky is Emeritus Professor of Political Economy at the University of Warwick. His three volume biography of the economist John Maynard Keynes (1983, 1992, 2000) received numerous prizes, including the Lionel Gelber Prize for International Relations and the Council on Foreign Relations Prize for International Relations. In Norman Stone’s words, “This three-volume life of the British economist should be given a Nobel Prize for History if there was such a thing”. Robert is the author of the The World After Communism (1995). He was made a life peer in 1991, and was elected Fellow of the British Academy in 1994.
Pobert has given countless speeches at conferences, the Social Market Foundation and elsewhere. Most recently, he addressed the House of Lords on currency fluctuations in November 2016.
The dominant view in economics is that money and government should play only a minor role in economic life. Money is nothing more than a medium of exchange, it is claimed, and economic outcomes are best left to Adam Smith’s ‘invisible hand’ of the market. Yet these issues remain staunchly unsettled. The view taken in this important new book is that the omnipresence of uncertainty makes money and government essential features of any market economy. We hold money because we don’t know what the future will bring. Government – good government – makes the future more predictable and therefore reduces the propensity to hold money. After Smith, orthodox economics persistently espoused non-interventionism; but the Great Depression of 1929-32 stopped the artificers of orthodox economics in their tracks. A precarious balance of forces between government, employers, and trade unions enabled Keynesian economics to emerge as the new policy paradigm of the Western world. However, the stagflation of the 1970s led to the rejection of Keynesian policy and a return to small-state neoclassical orthodoxy. Thirty years later, the 2008 global financial crash was severe enough to have shaken the re-vamped classical orthodoxy, but, curiously, this did not happen. Once the crisis had been overcome – by Keynesian measures taken in desperation – the pre-crash orthodoxy was reinstated, undermined but unbowed. Since 2008, no new ‘big idea’ has emerged, and orthodoxy has maintained its sway, enacting punishing austerity agendas that leave us with a still-anaemic global economy. This book aims to familiarise the reader with essential elements of Keynes’s ‘big idea’. By showing that much of economic orthodoxy is far from being the hard science it claims to be, it aims to embolden the next generation of economists to break free from their conceptual prisons and to afford money and government the starring roles in the economic drama that they deserve.
Publisher: Allen Lane
Publication Date: 6th September 2018
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Today, John Maynard Keynes is best remembered for his pioneering development of macroeconomics, and for his advocacy – based on a radical break from the ‘classical’ economic belief in self-stabilising, self-optimizing markets – of active fiscal and monetary government policy. This uniquely comprehensive selection aims to make this work more accessible to both students of economics and the general reader. Yet the selection goes beyond pure economics. Here too are Keynes’s essential writings on philosophy, social theory and policy – and his futurist vision of a world without work. As Robert Skidelsky writes in his introduction: “People talk of the need for a new Keynes. But the old Keynes still has superlative wisdom to offer for a new age.”
THE ROAD FROM SERFDOM: THE ECONOMIC AND POLITICAL CONSEQUENCES OF THE END OF COMMUNISM — Buy it here
At the onset of the Cold War in 1944, Friedrich A. Hayek wrote his classic book The Road to Serfdom to warn that central planning threatens freedom. Now Robert Skidelsky, author of an acclaimed biography of John Maynard Keynes, looks at the havoc central planning has wrought since then. Despite the seeming chaos of the post-communist world, Skidelsky argues that the global failure and collapse of collectivism as a principle of social organization is one of the most hopeful events of the 20th century. His book elegantly combines recent history and economics to make the case. Hayek would have loved it.
PUBLISHER: Allen Lane
PUBLICATION DATE: February 1996
KEYNES: A VERY SHORT INTRODUCTION – Buy it here.
John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946) is a central thinker of the twentieth century, not just an economic theorist and statesman, but also in economics, philosophy, politics, and culture. In this Very Short Introduction Lord Skidelsky, a renowned biographer of Keynes, explores his ethical and practical philosophy, his monetary thought, and provides an insight into his life and works. In the recent financial crisis Keynes’s theories have become more timely than ever, and remain at the centre of political and economic discussion. With a look at his major works and his contribution to twentieth-century economic thought, Skidelsky considers Keynes’s legacy on today’s society.
PUBLISHER: Oxford University Press
PUBLICATION DATE: 7 October 2010
SKIDELSKY ON THE ECONOMIC CRISIS 2008-2011 – Buy it here.
“We are about to embark on a momentous experiment to discover which of the two stories about the economy is true. If, in fact, fiscal consolidation proves to be the royal road to recovery and fast growth then we might as well bury Keynes once and for all. If however, the financial markets and their political fuglemen turn out to be as ‘super-asinine’ as Keynes thought they were, then the challenge that financial power poses to good government has to be squarely faced.”
Robert Skidelsky is Professor Emeritus of Political Economy at Warwick University, a Crossbench Peer, and the author of a biography of John Maynard Keynes and Keynes: The Return of the Master.
PUBLISHER: Centre for Global Studies
PUBLICATION DATE: 20th January 2012
POLITICIANS AND THE SLUMP: THE LABOUR GOVERNMENT OF 1929-31 – Buy it here
PUBLISHER: Penguin Books
PUBLICATION DATE: 24th September 1970
INTERESTS AND OBSESSIONS: HISTORICAL ESSAYS
A collection of essays on subjects including the Commonwealth, the uses of history and the economic decline of Britain and on figures such as Sidney and Beatrice Webb and Enoch Powell. Robert Skidelsky is the author of the acclaimed two-volume biography of J.M.Keynes and brings his critical and imaginative powers to bear on a whole series of figures and subjects crucial to an understanding of modern history.
PUBLICATION DATE: 5th November 1993
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In recent years, economic growth has been regarded as a self-evident good, with political debate focussed on the best means to achieve it. But there are now signs that this shared assumption is weakening. Anger at ‘greedy’ bankers and their ‘obscene’ bonuses has given way to a deeper dissatisfaction with an economic system geared overwhelmingly to the accumulation of wealth. Huge income disparities and an ever-growing gap between the richest and the rest has brought us to one of those rare moments when the underlying assumptions of society, are changing.
In How Much is Enough? Robert and Edward Skidelsky argue that wealth is not an end in itself but a means to the achievement and maintenance of a ‘good life’, and that our economy should be organised to reflect this fact. The book includes a definition of the ‘good life’, discusses the relevance of ‘Happiness Studies’ and the environmental impact of our ever-growing need to consume. In doing so, it offers an escape from the trap of excessive specialization and a way to reinvigorate the idea of economics as a ‘moral science’. It concludes by offering a radical new model for income re-distribution – and a consideration of what human beings might really want from their lives.
‘A crisp and pungent book … a wake-up call’ —Rowan Williams, Prospect
‘[S]pirited’ —Larry Elliott, The Guardian
‘[A] valuable contribution to the increasingly urgent literature on the nature of value’ —Giles Fraser, The Guardian
‘[T]he Skidelskys’ criticisms of the modern liberal state … are shrewd and just’ —Anthony Daniels, The Spectator
KEYNES: THE RETURN OF THE MASTER – Buy it here
In the current financial crisis Keynes has been taken out of his cupboard, dusted down, consulted, cited, invoked and appealed to about why events have taken the course they have and how a rescue operation can be effected. Why have we gone back so emphatically to the ideas of an economist who died fifty years ago? There are three main ideas of Keynes’s worth thinking about now. The first is that the future is unknowable, and therefore that economic storms, especially those originating in the financial system, are not random shocks which impinge on smoothly-adjusting markets, but part of the normal working of the market system. The second idea is that economies wounded by these ‘shocks’ can, if left to themselves, stay in a depressed condition for a long time. That is why governments need to have and use fiscal ammunition to prevent a slide from financial crisis to economic depression. The third concerns what he termed ‘organicism’: societies are communities not, as he put it, ‘branches of the multiplication table’. This limited his support for the pursuit of efficiency at all costs. The ideas of John Maynard Keynes have never been more timely.
“This is a book full of arresting insights, written – despite its complex and heavyweight subject matter – with a captivating lightness of touch. It has exactly the authorial virtues of the man who inspired it”. Dominic Lawson, Sunday Times.
PUBLISHER: Allen Lane
PUBLICATION DATE: September 2009
RIGHTS CONTROLLED: Translation
RIGHTS SOLD: Chinese (complex), Chinese (simplified), Croatian, Dutch, German, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese (Brazil), Portuguese (Portugal), Russian, Spanish, Swedish
JOHN MAYNARD KEYNES 1883 – 1946 – Buy it here
Robert Skidelsky’s three-volume biography of John Maynard Keynes has been acclaimed as the authoritative account of the great economist-statesman’s life. Meticulously researched and beautifully written, this abridged biography offers us a sympathetic account of the life and influences of a passionate visionary, and an invaluable insight into the formation of a new economic philosophy whose ideas remain even today at the centre of political and economic discussion.
“This three-volume life of the British economist should be given a Nobel Prize for History if there was such a thing.” – Norman Stone
“In Robert Skidelsky’s magnificently intelligent biography – in my opinion the greatest of the last century and, possibly, of this one too – Keynes has received the best tribute he could deserve” – Mark Archer, Financial Times Magazine
PUBLISHER: Pan Macmillan
PUBLICATION DATE: 6th August 2006