Nicholas Wapshott - Keynes Hayek: The Clash That Defined Modern Economics

11/09/2012 - 11/09/2012

The Centre for Policy Studies presents an evening with Nicholas Wapshott author of ‘Keynes Hayek: The Clash That Defined Modern Economics‘.

As the stock market crash of 1929 plunged the world into turmoil, two men emerged with competing claims on how to restore balance to economies gone awry. John Maynard Keynes, the mercurial Cambridge economist, believed that government had a duty to spend when others would not. He met his opposite in a little-known Austrian economics professor, Freidrich Hayek, who considered attempts to intervene both pointless and potentially dangerous. The battle lines thus drawn, Keynesian economics would dominate for decades and coincide with an era of unprecedented prosperity, but conservative economists and political leaders would eventually embrace and execute Hayek’s contrary vision. From their first face-to-face encounter to the heated arguments between their ardent disciples, Nicholas Wapshott here unearths the contemporary relevance of Keynes and Hayek, as present-day arguments over the virtues of the free market and government intervention rage with the same ferocity as they did in the 1930s.

The battle between growth versus austerity today is a rerun of Keynes v Hayek. In Britain, in the Eurozone and in America, the political world is divided about how to lift the world economy out of the doldrums, whether to funnel more cash into the system through cheap money, tax breaks, public borrowing, and public works, as Keynes recommended, or whether to pay off public debt fast and hunker down until a recovery emerges through market forces. Political forces are lined up behind those, like Keynes, who detested the waste of human lives in protracted unemployment, and those, like Hayek, who yearned for a lost order in a market economy pulled out of shape by persistent intervention by governments.

Nicholas Wapshott will talk about his book and the relevance of the Keynes-Hayek clash today, and take questions from guests. 

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