John Maynard Keynes Quotes

John Maynard Keynes, 1st Baron Keynes, 1883 – 1946

Born: 5 June 1883, Cambridge, England, UK
Died: 21 April 1946, Firle, East Sussex, England, UK

Keynes’ family was well-to-do and academic; his father was an economist and philosopher, his mother was the first female mayor of the town. He thrived at Eton and at Cambridge University. He joined the India Office where he worked on a dissertation, often during office hours, which earned him a fellowship at King’s College. In 1908 he quit the civil service and returned to Cambridge. At the start of World War I he joined the treasury, afterward criticized the penalties against Germany in The Economic Consequences of Peace, a book that sold well and gave him an international reputation. Between the wars he invested successfully for himself and strengthened the finances of King’s College, of which he was bursar. In 1925 he married a young Russian ballerina, Lydia Lopokova, attracting some censure over their age and academic differences including from his friends, and in spite of the fact that most of his previous relationships had been with men. In 1936 he published The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money which became the standard of economic theory and made him Britain’s most-influential economist. He rejoined the treasure at the start of the second world war, was created Baron and seated in the House of Lords, and he was a key player in the Bretton Woods Conference that created the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, essentially establishing the international standards for the international monetary system. His health was failing at the time of the conference and he died just weeks after the conference but his work, known as Keynesian economics, was the benchmark for policy for another three decades.

John Maynard Keynes quotes:

A study of the history of opinion is a necessary preliminary to the emancipation of the mind.
    John Maynard Keynes

All production is for the purpose of ultimately satisfying a consumer.
    John Maynard Keynes – The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money (1935)

Americans are apt to be unduly interested in discovering what average opinion believes average opinion to be; and this national weakness finds its nemesis in the stock market.
    John Maynard Keynes – The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money (1935)

But the dreams of designing diplomats do not always prosper, and we must trust the future.
    John Maynard Keynes – The Economic Consequences of the Peace (1919)

But whilst there may be intrinsic reasons for the scarcity of land, there are no intrinsic reasons for the scarcity of capital.
    John Maynard Keynes – The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money (1935)

By a continuous process of inflation, governments can confiscate, secretly and unobserved, an important part of the wealth of their citizens. By this method, they not only confiscate, but they confiscate arbitrarily; and while the process impoverishes many, it actually enriches some….The process engages all of the hidden forces of economic law on the side of destruction, and does it in a manner that not one man in a million can diagnose.
    John Maynard Keynes – Economic Consequences of the Peace (1920)

Canada is a place of infinite promise. We like the people, and if one ever had to emigrate, this would be the destination, not the U.S.A. The hills, lakes, and forests make it a place of peace and repose of the mind, such as one never finds in the U.S.A.
    John Maynard Keynes

Capitalism is the astonishing belief that the nastiest motives of the nastiest men somehow or other work for the best results in the best of all possible worlds.
    John Maynard Keynes

Capitalism is the astounding belief that the most wickedest of men will do the most wickedest of things for the greatest good of everyone.
    John Maynard Keynes

Economic privation proceeds by easy stages, and so long as men suffer it patiently the outside world cares little.
    John Maynard Keynes – The Economic Consequences of the Peace (1919)

Economics is a very dangerous science.
    John Maynard Keynes – “Robert Malthus”, Essays In Biography (1933)

Education: the inculcation of the incomprehensible into the indifferent by the incompetent.
    John Maynard Keynes

For at least another hundred years we must pretend to ourselves and to everyone that fair is foul and foul is fair; for foul is useful and fair is not. Avarice and usury and precaution must be our gods for a little longer still.
    John Maynard Keynes – “The Future”, Essays in Persuasion (1931)

For my part I think that capitalism, wisely managed, can probably be made more efficient for attaining economic ends than any alternative system yet in sight, but that in itself it is in many ways extremely objectionable.
    John Maynard Keynes – The End of Laissez-faire (1926)

For the importance of money essentially flows from its being a link between the present and the future.
    John Maynard Keynes – The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money (1935)

His peculiar gift was the power of holding continuously in his mind a purely mental problem until he had seen it through.
    John Maynard Keynes – On Isaac Newton in Essays in Biography (1933)

How can I adopt a creed which, preferring the mud to the fish, exalts the boorish proletariat above the bourgeois and the intelligentsia who, with whatever faults, are the quality in life and surely carry the seeds of all human advancement?
    John Maynard Keynes – A Short View of Russia (1925)

I am myself impressed by the great social advantages of increasing the stock of capital until it ceases to be scarce.
    John Maynard Keynes – The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money (1935)

I can be influenced by what seems to me to be justice and good sense; but the class war will find me on the side of the educated bourgeoisie.
    John Maynard Keynes – A Short View of Russia (1925)

I do not know which makes a man more conservative — to know nothing but the present, or nothing but the past.
    John Maynard Keynes – The End of Laissez-faire (1926)

I should have drunk more champagne.
    John Maynard Keynes – last words

Ideas shape the course of history.
    John Maynard Keynes

If economists could manage to get themselves thought of as humble, competent people on a level with dentists, that would be splendid.
    John Maynard Keynes – “The Future”, Essays in Persuasion (1931)

If farming were to be organised like the stock market, a farmer would sell his farm in the morning when it was raining, only to buy it back in the afternoon when the sun came out.
    John Maynard Keynes

If we aim deliberately at the impoverishment of Central Europe, vengeance, I dare predict, will not limp.
    John Maynard Keynes – The Economic Consequences of the Peace (1919)

In the long run we are all dead.
    John Maynard Keynes

In truth, the gold standard is already a barbarous relic.
    John Maynard Keynes – Monetary Reform (1924)

It is better that a man should tyrannise over his bank balance than over his fellow-citizens and whilst the former is sometimes denounced as being but a means to the latter, sometimes at least it is an alternative.
    John Maynard Keynes – The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money (1935)

It is generally agreed that casinos should, in the public interest, be inaccessible and expensive. And perhaps the same is true of Stock Exchanges.
    John Maynard Keynes – The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money (1935)

It is ideas, not vested interests, which are dangerous for good or evil.
    John Maynard Keynes – The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money (1935)

It would be foolish, in forming our expectations, to attach great weight to matters which are very uncertain.
    John Maynard Keynes – The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money (1935)

Lenin is said to have declared that the best way to destroy the capitalist system was to debauch the currency. By a continuing process of inflation, governments can confiscate, secretly and unobserved, an important part of the wealth of their citizens.
    John Maynard Keynes – The Economic Consequences of the Peace (1919)

Markets can remain irrational longer than you can remain solvent.
    John Maynard Keynes

Marxian Socialism must always remain a portent to the historians of Opinion — how a doctrine so illogical and so dull can have exercised so powerful and enduring an influence over the minds of men, and, through them, the events of history.
    John Maynard Keynes – The End of Laissez-faire (1926)

Men will not always die quietly.
    John Maynard Keynes – The Economic Consequences of the Peace (1919)

Most men love money and security more, and creation and construction less, as they get older.
    John Maynard Keynes – “The Future”, Essays in Persuasion (1931)

Nothing mattered except states of mind, chiefly our own.
    John Maynard Keynes – Essays in Biography (1933)

Obstinacy can bring only a penalty and no reward.
    John Maynard Keynes – The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money (1935)

Once doubt begins it spreads rapidly.
    John Maynard Keynes – The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money (1935)

Perhaps it is historically true that no order of society ever perishes save by its own hand.
    John Maynard Keynes – The Economic Consequences of the Peace (1919)

Successful investing is anticipating the anticipations of others.
    John Maynard Keynes

The avoidance of taxes is the only intellectual pursuit that still carries any reward.
    John Maynard Keynes

The businessman is only tolerable so long as his gains can be held to bear some relation to what, roughly and in some sense, his activities have contributed to society.
    John Maynard Keynes

The decadent international but individualistic capitalism in the hands of which we found ourselves after the war 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.
    John Maynard Keynes – National self-sufficiency (1933)

The destruction of the inducement to invest by an excessive liquidity-preference was the outstanding evil, the prime impediment to the growth of wealth, in the ancient and medieval worlds.
    John Maynard Keynes – The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money (1935)

It would be foolish, in forming our expectations, to attach great weight to matters which are very uncertain.
    John Maynard Keynes – The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money (1935)

Lenin is said to have declared that the best way to destroy the capitalist system was to debauch the currency. By a continuing process of inflation, governments can confiscate, secretly and unobserved, an important part of the wealth of their citizens.
    John Maynard Keynes – The Economic Consequences of the Peace (1919)

Markets can remain irrational longer than you can remain solvent.
    John Maynard Keynes

Marxian Socialism must always remain a portent to the historians of Opinion — how a doctrine so illogical and so dull can have exercised so powerful and enduring an influence over the minds of men, and, through them, the events of history.
    John Maynard Keynes – The End of Laissez-faire (1926)

Men will not always die quietly.
    John Maynard Keynes – The Economic Consequences of the Peace (1919)

Most men love money and security more, and creation and construction less, as they get older.
    John Maynard Keynes – “The Future”, Essays in Persuasion (1931)

Nothing mattered except states of mind, chiefly our own.
    John Maynard Keynes – Essays in Biography (1933)

Obstinacy can bring only a penalty and no reward.
    John Maynard Keynes – The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money (1935)

Once doubt begins it spreads rapidly.
    John Maynard Keynes – The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money (1935)

Perhaps it is historically true that no order of society ever perishes save by its own hand.
    John Maynard Keynes – The Economic Consequences of the Peace (1919)

Successful investing is anticipating the anticipations of others.
    John Maynard Keynes

The avoidance of taxes is the only intellectual pursuit that still carries any reward.
    John Maynard Keynes

The businessman is only tolerable so long as his gains can be held to bear some relation to what, roughly and in some sense, his activities have contributed to society.
    John Maynard Keynes

The decadent international but individualistic capitalism in the hands of which we found ourselves after the war 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.
    John Maynard Keynes – National self-sufficiency (1933)

The destruction of the inducement to invest by an excessive liquidity-preference was the outstanding evil, the prime impediment to the growth of wealth, in the ancient and medieval worlds.
    John Maynard Keynes – The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money (1935)

The destruction of the inducement to invest by an excessive liquidity-preference was the outstanding evil, the prime impediment to the growth of wealth, in the ancient and medieval worlds.
    John Maynard Keynes – The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money (1935)

The difficulty lies, not in the new ideas, but in escaping the old ones, which ramify, for those brought up as most of us have been, into every corner of our minds.
    John Maynard Keynes – The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money (1935)

The disruptive powers of excessive national fecundity may have played a greater part in bursting the bonds of convention then either the power of ideas or the errors of autocracy.
    John Maynard Keynes – The Economic Consequences of the Peace (1919)

The great events of history are often due to secular changes in the growth of population and other fundamental economic causes, which, escaping by their gradual character the notice of contemporary observers, are attributed to the follies of statesmen or the fanaticism of atheists.
    John Maynard Keynes – The Economic Consequences of the Peace (1919)

The idea behind stamped money is sound.
    John Maynard Keynes – The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money (1935)

The ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than is commonly understood. Indeed the world is ruled by little else. Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influence, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist.
    John Maynard Keynes – The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money (1935)

The immense accumulations of fixed capital which, to the great benefit of mankind, were built up during the half century before the war, could never have come about in a Society where wealth was divided equitably.
    John Maynard Keynes – The Economic Consequences of the Peace (1919)

The introduction of a substantial Government transfer tax on all transactions might prove the most serviceable reform available,with a view to mitigating the predominance of speculation in the United States.
    John Maynard Keynes – The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money (1935)

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.
    John Maynard Keynes – A Tract on Monetary Reform (1923)

The love of money as a possession — as distinguished from the love of money as a means to the enjoyments and realities of life — will be recognised for what it is, a somewhat disgusting morbidity, one of those semi-criminal, semi-pathological propensities which one hands over with a shudder to the specialists in mental disease.
    John Maynard Keynes – “The Future”, Essays in Persuasion (1931)

The old saying holds. Owe your banker £1000 and you are at his mercy; owe him £1 million and the position is reversed.
    John Maynard Keynes – “Overseas Financial Policy in Stage III” (1945)

The power to become habituated to his surroundings is a marked characteristic of mankind.
    John Maynard Keynes – The Economic Consequences of the Peace (1919)

The right remedy for the trade cycle is not to be found in abolishing booms and thus keeping us permanently in a semi-slump; but in abolishing slumps and thus keeping us permanently in a quasi-boom.
    John Maynard Keynes – The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money (1935)

The social object of skilled investment should be to defeat the dark forces of time and ignorance which envelope our future.
    John Maynard Keynes – The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money (1935)

The study of economics does not seem to require any specialised gifts of an unusually high order.
    John Maynard Keynes – “Alfred Marshall”, Essays In Biography (1933)

The subjects of every state ought to contribute towards the support of the government, as nearly as possible, in proportion to their respective abilities; that is, in proportion to the revenue which they respectively enjoy under the protection of the state…. The rich should contribute to the public expense, not only in proportion to their revenue, but something more than in that proportion.
    John Maynard Keynes

There is no harm in being sometimes wrong — especially if one is promptly found out.
    John Maynard Keynes – Essays in Biography (1933)

Thus public works even of doubtful utility may pay for themselves over and over again at a time of severe unemployment, if only from the diminished cost of relief expenditure.
    John Maynard Keynes – The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money (1935)

To those who sweat for their daily bread leisure is a longed-for sweet until they get it.
    John Maynard Keynes

Two pyramids, two masses for the dead, are twice as good as one; but not so two railways from London to York.
    John Maynard Keynes – The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money (1935)

We are, as I have said, one equation short.
    John Maynard Keynes – The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money (1935)

When the accumulation of wealth is no longer of high social importance, there will be great changes in the code of morals.
    John Maynard Keynes – “The Future”, Essays in Persuasion (1931)

When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?
    John Maynard Keynes

Words ought to be a little wild, for they are the assault of thoughts on the unthinking.
    John Maynard Keynes – New Statesman and Nation (15 July 1933)

Worldly wisdom teaches that it is better for reputation to fail conventionally then to succeed unconventionally.
    John Maynard Keynes – The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money (1935)

You can’t push on a string.
    John Maynard Keynes

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