"I can see us as water-spiders, gracefully skimming, as light and reasonable as air, the surface of the stream without any contact at all with the eddies and currents underneath."
That was how John Maynard Keynes, speaking in 1938 in a talk later published as his brilliant memoir My Early Beliefs, recalled his younger self and his friends in the Bloomsbury Group as they had been in the years before World War I.
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That is how Keynes's disciples view him today. The fashionable cult of austerity, they warn, has forgotten Keynes's most important insight - slashing government spending when credit is scarce only plunges the economy into deeper recession.What is needed now, they believe, is what Keynes urged in the 30s - governments must be ready to borrow more, print more money and invest in public works in order to restart growth.
But would Keynes be today what is described as a Keynesian? Would this supremely subtle and sceptical mind still believe that policies he formulated long ago - which worked well in the decades after the World War II - can solve our problems now?
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