John Maynard Keynes was born on 5 June 1883 in Cambridge into a well-to-do academic family. His father was an economist and a philosopher, his mother became the town’s first female mayor. Suitably stimulated, he excelled academically at Eton as well as Cambridge University, where he studied mathematics. He also became friends with members of the Bloomsbury group of intellectuals and artists.
After graduating, Keynes went to work in the India Office, and simultaneously managed to work on a dissertation – often during office hours – which earned him a fellowship at King’s College. In 1908, he quit the civil service and returned to Cambridge. Following the outbreak of World War One, Keynes joined the treasury, and in the wake of the Versailles peace treaty, he published ‘The Economic Consequences of the Peace’, in which he criticized the exorbitant war reparations demanded from a defeated Germany and prophetically predicted a German revenge. The best-selling book made him world famous.
During the inter-war years, Keynes amassed a considerable personal fortune from the financial markets and, as bursar of King’s College, greatly improved the college’s financial position. He became a prominent arts patron and board member of a number of companies. In 1926 he married Lydia Lopokova, a Russian ballerina.
Keynes’ best-known work, ‘The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money’, was published in 1936, and became a benchmark for future economic thought. It also secured his position as Britain’s most influential economist, and with the advent of World War Two, he again worked for the treasury. In 1942, he was made a member of the House of Lords.
During the war years, Keynes played a decisive role in the negotiations that were to shape the post-war international economic order. In 1944, he led the British delegation to the Bretton Woods conference in America. At the conference he played a significant part in the planning of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. He died on 21 April 1946.
Comment: We are hearing a lot of talk coming out of Washington regarding the benefits of Keynesian economics. It is of utmost importance to re-educate the American public on who this man is, and what his policies mean to free market economics. Here is just a brief biography with further analysis forthcoming.