JOHN MAYNARD KEYNES

VOL. II, THE ECONOMIST AS SAVIOR, 1920-1937

The second installment of Skidelsky's three-volume biography of the 20th century's most influential and controversial economist. As in the superb first volume (1986)—which took Keynes (1883-1946) through the immediate aftermath of WW I—Skidelsky (International Studies/University of Warwick) offers a perceptive portrait, one that here reveals a worldly-wise philosopher at the peak of his considerable powers. Focusing on Keynes the innovative, albeit pragmatic, thinker who abandoned any notion that classical economics was a body of knowledge rather than a method of analysis, the author provides accessible perspectives on how the economist involved himself in Whitehall's disastrous decision to return England to the gold standard in 1925; in the mass misery of the Depression; and in other great issues. Stressing his subject's constant efforts to devise an economic system that would tame capitalism's more savage features without unleashing socialism, Skidelsky shows how Keynes achieved international stature sufficient to affect FDR's New Deal and then went on to write a masterwork with remarkable staying power, The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money. In tracing the metamorphosis of Keynes from clever young man to authoritative adult, moreover, the author doesn't scant the public man's private life. Among other insights, he provides a moving account of how Keynes, long a homosexual, astounded Bloomsbury friends by falling in love with and marrying Lydia Lopokova, a Russian ballerina. Covered as well are the ways in which Keynes (who moved easily among venues as varied as academe, the arts, finance, government, and high society) used his market savvy to make himself a wealthy man. (One cavil: Skidelsky devotes too much attention to trivial details—e.g., furniture purchases for the Keynes country home and the given names of a servant's children.) A comprehensive and commanding profile that's bidding fair to become the standard reference. (Sixteen pages of b&w illustrations)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-713-99110-0

Page Count: 768

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1993

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A declaration worth hearing out in a time of growing inequality—and indignity.

ECONOMIC DIGNITY

Noted number cruncher Sperling delivers an economist’s rejoinder to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Former director of the National Economic Council in the administrations of Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, the author has long taken a view of the dismal science that takes economic justice fully into account. Alongside all the metrics and estimates and reckonings of GDP, inflation, and the supply curve, he holds the great goal of economic policy to be the advancement of human dignity, a concept intangible enough to chase the econometricians away. Growth, the sacred mantra of most economic policy, “should never be considered an appropriate ultimate end goal” for it, he counsels. Though 4% is the magic number for annual growth to be considered healthy, it is healthy only if everyone is getting the benefits and not just the ultrawealthy who are making away with the spoils today. Defining dignity, admits Sperling, can be a kind of “I know it when I see it” problem, but it does not exist where people are a paycheck away from homelessness; the fact, however, that people widely share a view of indignity suggests the “intuitive universality” of its opposite. That said, the author identifies three qualifications, one of them the “ability to meaningfully participate in the economy with respect, not domination and humiliation.” Though these latter terms are also essentially unquantifiable, Sperling holds that this respect—lack of abuse, in another phrasing—can be obtained through a tight labor market and monetary and fiscal policy that pushes for full employment. In other words, where management needs to come looking for workers, workers are likely to be better treated than when the opposite holds. In still other words, writes the author, dignity is in part a function of “ ‘take this job and shove it’ power,” which is a power worth fighting for.

A declaration worth hearing out in a time of growing inequality—and indignity.

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7987-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

BEATING THE STREET

More uncommonly sensible investment guidance from a master of the game. Drawing on his experience at Fidelity's Magellan Fund, a high- profile vehicle he quit at age 46 in 1990 after a spectacularly successful 13-year tenure as managing director, Lynch (One Up on Wall Street, 1988) makes a strong case for common stocks over bonds, CDs, or other forms of debt. In breezy, anecdotal fashion, the author also encourages individuals to go it alone in the market rather than to bank on money managers whose performance seldom justifies their generous compensation. With the caveat that there's as much art as science to picking issues with upside potential, Lynch commends legwork and observation. ``Spending more time at the mall,'' he argues, invariably is a better way to unearth appreciation candidates than relying on technical, timing, or other costly divining services prized by professionals. The author provides detailed briefings on how he researches industries, special situations, and mutual funds. Particularly instructive are his candid discussions of where he went wrong as well as right in his search for undervalued securities. Throughout the genial text, Lynch offers wry, on-target advisories under the rubric of ``Peter's Principles.'' Commenting on the profits that have accrued to those acquiring shares in enterprises privatized by the British government, he notes: ``Whatever the Queen is selling, buy it.'' In praise of corporate parsimony, the author suggests that, ``all else being equal, invest in the company with the fewest photos in the annual report.'' Another bull's-eye for a consummate pro, with appeal for market veterans and rookies alike. (Charts and tabular material— not seen.)

Pub Date: March 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-671-75915-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1993

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more