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The Enduring Importance of The General Theory


  • G. C. Harcourt
  • Peter Kriesler


This paper examines some features of The General Theory that remain relevant 75 years after its publication. Keynes showed that even in a competitive economy with perfectly flexible prices, wages and interest rates, market prices could not guarantee full employment and that the achievement of full employment would only be a fluke. In other words, he showed that there was no natural mechanism to drive the economy to full employment, and that the level of employment was determined by effective demand rather than by the wage rate. He demonstrated this by using a method that stressed the relationship between cause and effect in determining key variables and relations in the economy. Keynes demonstrated that monetary variables affected real variables, and real variables affected monetary ones, in both the short run and long run. This can be contrasted with mainstream theory, where the long-run neutrality of money remains a key result. The paper proposes a rehabilitation of Keynes's analysis of the supply and demand for money—away from its original role in explaining domestic monetary influences and towards providing an analysis of supply and demand for international money.

Suggested Citation

  • G. C. Harcourt & Peter Kriesler, 2011. "The Enduring Importance of The General Theory," Review of Political Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 23(4), pages 503-519, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:revpoe:v:23:y:2011:i:4:p:503-519
    DOI: 10.1080/09538259.2011.611616

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