Why is Keynesian Economics Collapsing?

by Martin Armstrong
Armstrong Economics

John Maynard Keynes in his 1936 book, ‘The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money,” argued aggregate demand was too volatile to be stable and would lead to inflation or recessions. His theory honed in on spending as a means of price control. Low aggregate demand, Keynes argues, would lead to high unemployment and stagflation. Government could intervene through fiscal policies to increase aggregate demand, as an example, increased government spending could tame inflation. Interest rates, according to Keynes, could also be modified to encourage spending and stimulate demand. So why are these theories failing miserably today?

To begin, the United States had a balanced budget when Keynes presented his theory. The government is now the biggest borrower, acting in its own self interest under Adam Smith’s theory of the invisible hand that Keynes spent his career attempting to deny. According to Keynes, “there is no self-correcting mechanism in a free market economy that automatically restores full employment.” He believed that the government could change the business cycle but arguably regretted this notion on his deathbed.

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