Friday, January 18, 2013

Keynes Quotes for the 2007 FOMC Meetings


What J.M. Keynes might have said had he been at the 2007 FOMC meetings:

  • It would be foolish, in forming our expectations, to attach great weight to matters which are very uncertain. --General Theory (1935) Book 4, Chapter 12, Section 2, p. 148
  • The decadent international but individualistic capitalism in the hands of which we found ourselves… is not a success. It is not intelligent. It is not beautiful. It is not just. It is not virtuous. And it doesn't deliver the goods. In short we dislike it, and we are beginning to despise it. But when we wonder what to put in its place, we are extremely perplexed. --National self-sufficiency (1933) Section 3, republished in Collected Writings Vol. 11 (1982).
  • This is a nightmare, which will pass away with the morning. For the resources of nature and men's devices are just as fertile and productive as they were. The rate of our progress towards solving the material problems of life is not less rapid. We are as capable as before of affording for everyone a high standard of life ... and will soon learn to afford a standard higher still. We were not previously deceived. But to-day we have involved ourselves in a colossal muddle, having blundered in the control of a delicate machine, the working of which we do not understand. The result is that our possibilities of wealth may run to waste for a time — perhaps for a long time. --The Great Slump of 1930 (1930), in Essays in Persuasion
  • The old saying holds. Owe your banker £1000 and you are at his mercy; owe him £1 million and the position is reversed. --Overseas Financial Policy in Stage III (1945), Collected Writings 24:258.


What Keynes might have said today in response to the transcripts:
  • There were endless possibilities, not out of reach. --Essays in Bibliography (1933)
  • Logic, like lyrical poetry, is no employment for the middle-aged. --Essays in Bibliography (1933)
  • Worldly wisdom teaches that it is better for reputation to fail conventionally than to succeed unconventionally. --General Theory (1935) Book 4, Chapter 12, Section 5, p. 158
  • The disruptive powers of excessive national fecundity may have played a greater part in bursting the bonds of convention than either the power of ideas or the errors of autocracy. --The Economic Consequences of Peace (1919).
  • Words ought to be a little wild for they are the assault of thoughts on the unthinking. --New Statesman and Nation (London, July 15, 1933).
  • It is ideas, not vested interests, which are dangerous for good or evil. --Concluding Notes, ch. 24, The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money (1936).
  • I do not know which makes a man more conservative—to know nothing but the present, or nothing but the past. --The End of Laissez-Faire, ch. 1 (1926).

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