Thursday, 29 December 2011

Wisdom from an economist? Yes really!

John Maynard Keynes, 1883-1946, was a British economist who overturned the earlier ideas of neoclassical economics and worked to replace them with modern macroeconomics.

We are all doubtful about economists these days and would do well to remember the adage that:

"The economy depends on economists about as much as the weather depends on weather forecasters."

However, surprisingly, Keynes spoke a lot more sense than most of them and here are a few interesting quotations from him.

The long run is a misleading guide to current affairs. In the long run we are all dead.  Economists set themselves too easy, too useless a task if in tempestuous seasons they can only tell us that when the storm is past the ocean is flat again. 
-- 1923

Words ought to be a little wild, for they are the assault of thoughts on the unthinking. -- 1933

There is no harm in being sometimes wrong — especially if one is promptly found out. -- 1933

If the Treasury were to fill old bottles with banknotes, bury them at suitable depths in disused coal mines which are then filled up to the surface with town rubbish, and leave it private enterprise on well tried principals of laissez-faire to dig the notes up again (the right to do so being obtained, of course, by tendering for leases of the note-bearing territory), there need be no more unemployment and, with the help of the repercussions, the real income of the community, and its capital wealth also, would probably become a good deal greater than it actually is. -- 1935

Newton was not the first of the age of reason. He was the last of the magicians, the last of the Babylonians and Sumerians, the last great mind that looked out on the visible and intellectual world with the same eyes as those who began to build our intellectual inheritance rather less than 10 000 years ago. 
-- 1942

If economists could manage to get themselves thought of as humble, competent people on a level with dentists, that would be splendid.  -- 1931

This one seems to tell the secret of Richard Branson's success:

The old saying holds. Owe your banker £1000 and you are at his mercy; owe him £1 million and the position is reversed. -- 1945

and finally, one that I empathise with very strongly (at least the first half):

I work for a Government I despise for ends I think criminal. -- 1917