This is my review of Keynes: The Return of the Master by Robert Skidelsky.
This provides some thought-provoking perspectives on, for instance, the collapsed credibility of the discipline of economics which failed to foresee the recent financial crisis- Skidelsky attributes this to a narrow focus on mathematics rather than the broader ethical, philosophical, historical context within which Keynes operated. This led Keynes to change his mind on the benefits of free trade after experiencing the trauma of the Great Depression. Perhaps wishing to have it all ways, he favoured an international approach to the world of arts which he loved, but came to advocate a measure of protection to encourage countries to manufacture their own goods, even if others could do it more efficiently.
Although this book inspired me to resolve to read a longer and more detailed work on Keynes, it left me feeling a little disappointed. The structure seemed disjointed, as the text switched back and forth in time, with sections written under subheadings in the manner of a text book, but without the systematic approach this normally entails. I was uncertain as to the intended audience. Surely a lay reader with no prior knowledge of Keynes would be confused by the half-explained theory, such as the role of interest rates in equating savings and investment, but not necessarily at the full employment level?
I would have preferred the key points of this book to be presented in a meaty essay, rather than have to tease them out of a somewhat unfocused book.