The Clash that Defined Modern Economics
Can government fix a broken economy? Two great economists disagreed eighty years ago, and their debate dominates politics to this day.
As the stock market crash of 1929 plunged the world into turmoil, two men emerged with competing claims on how to restore balance to economies gone awry. John Maynard Keynes, the mercurial Cambridge economist, believed that government had a duty to spend when others would not. He met his opposite in a little-known Austrian economics professor, Freidrich Hayek, who considered attempts to intervene both pointless and potentially dangerous. The battle lines thus drawn, Keynesian economics would dominate for decades and coincide with an era of unprecedented prosperity, but conservative economists and political leaders would eventually embrace and execute Hayek's contrary vision.
From their first face-to-face encounter to the heated arguments between their ardent disciples, Nicholas Wapshott here unearths the contemporary relevance of Keynes and Hayek, as present-day arguments over the virtues of the free market and government intervention rage with the same ferocity as they did in the 1930s.
- October 2011
- 6.5 × 9.6 in
/ 400 pages
- Territory Rights: Worldwide, excluding Australia and New Zealand.
Endorsements & Reviews
“Mr. Wapshott has written an important book. It is compelling not only as a history of two distinctive thinkers and their influence, but also as a narrative of political decision-making and its underlying priorities. Underlying Mr. Wapshott’s analysis are vital questions for this moment in American history: What kind of society do we want? And what do we owe to our fellow citizens and our collective future?” — Nancy F. Koehn, The New York Times
“Nicholas Wapshott’s new book, Keynes Hayek, does an excellent job of setting out the broader history behind this revival of the old debates. Wapshott brings the personalities to life, provides more useful information on the debates than any other source, and miraculously manages to write for both the lay reader and the expert at the same time. Virtually every page is gripping, and yet even the professional economist will glean some insight...” — Tyler Cowen, National Review
“Nicholas Wapshott’s Keynes Hayek is a smart and absorbing account of one of the most fateful encounters in modern history, remarkably rendered as a taut intellectual drama. Wapshott brilliantly brings to life the human history of ideas that continue to mold our world.” — Sean Wilentz, The Rise of American Democracy
“I heartily recommend Nicholas Wapshott’s new book, Keynes Hayek: The Clash that Defined Modern Economics.... Many books have been written about Keynes, but nobody else has told the story properly of his relationship with Hayek. Nick has filled the gap in splendid fashion, and I defy anybody—Keynesian, Hayekian, or uncommitted—to read his work and not learn something new.” — John Cassidy, The New Yorker
“In the fluency of his writing and his ability to make complex financial questions easily comprehensible, Nicholas Wapshott has done economics itself a great service, by opening the subject up to the general reader, as seen through the prism of one of the most important intellectual gladiatorial contests of modern times.” — Andrew Roberts, The Storm of War: A New History of the Second World War
“Nicholas Wapshott brings the Keynes-Hayek fight of the twentieth century back to life, making the clash both entertaining and highly relevant for understanding economic crises of the twenty-first century.” — John B. Taylor, Stanford University, Getting Off Track