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John Maynard Keynes, 1st Baron Keynes CB FBA (5 June 1883 – 21 April 1946), was a British economist whose ideas fundamentally changed the theory and practice of macroeconomics and the economic policies of governments. He built on and greatly refined earlier work on the causes of business cycles, and was one of the most influential economists of the 20th century and the founder of modern macroeconomics theory. His ideas are the basis for the school of thought known as Keynesian economics, and its various offshoots.
During the Great Depression of the 1930s, Keynes spearheaded a revolution in economic thinking, challenging the ideas of neoclassical economics that held that free markets would, in the short to medium term, automatically provide full employment, as long as workers were flexible in their wage demands. He instead argued that aggregate demand determined the overall level of economic activity and that inadequate aggregate demand could lead to prolonged periods of high unemployment. Keynes advocated the use of fiscal and monetary policies to mitigate the adverse effects of economic recessions and depressions. Keynes's magnum opus, The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, was published in 1936.
The leading Western economies adopted Keynes's policy recommendations before the outbreak of World War II, and in the two decades following Keynes's death in 1946, almost all capitalist governments had done so. Keynes's influence waned in the 1970s, partly as a result of the stagflation that plagued the Anglo-American economies during that decade, and partly because of criticism of Keynesian policies by Milton Friedman and other monetarists. He and other economists had disputed the ability of government to regulate the business cycle favourably with fiscal policy.
The Memoir Club (Duncan Grant; Leonard Woolf; Vanessa Bell; Clive Bell; David Garnett; Baron Keynes; Lydia Lopokova; Sir Desmond MacCarthy; Mary MacCarthy; Quentin Bell; E. M. Forster) Vanessa Bell (1879–1961) National Portrait Gallery, London
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The advent of the global financial crisis of 2007–2008 caused a resurgence in Keynesian thought. Keynesian economics provided the theoretical underpinning for economic policies undertaken in response to the crisis by President Barack Obama of the United States, Prime Minister Gordon Brown of the United Kingdom, and other heads of governments.
When Time magazine included Keynes among its Most Important People of the Century in 1999, it said that "his radical idea that governments should spend money they don't have may have saved capitalism." The Economist has described Keynes as "Britain's most famous 20th-century economist." In addition to being an economist, Keynes was also a civil servant, a director of the Bank of England, and a part of the Bloomsbury Group of intellectuals.
Keynes's early romantic and sexual relationships were exclusively with men. Keynes had been in relationships while at Eton and Cambridge; significant among these early partners were Dilly Knox and Daniel Macmillan. Keynes was open about his affairs, and from 1901 to 1915 kept separate diaries in which he tabulated his many sexual encounters. Keynes's relationship and later close friendship with Macmillan was to be fortunate, as Macmillan's company first published his tract Economic Consequences of the Peace.
Attitudes in the Bloomsbury Group, in which Keynes was avidly involved, were relaxed about homosexuality. Keynes, together with writer Lytton Strachey, had reshaped the Victorian attitudes of the Cambridge Apostles: "since [their] time, homosexual relations among the members were for a time common", wrote Bertrand Russell. The artist Duncan Grant, whom he met in 1908, was one of Keynes's great loves. Keynes was also involved with Lytton Strachey, though they were for the most part love rivals, not lovers. Keynes had won the affections of Arthur Hobhouse, and as with Grant, fell out with a jealous Strachey for it. Strachey had previously found himself put off by Keynes, not least because of his manner of "treat[ing] his love affairs statistically".
Political opponents have used Keynes's sexuality to attack his academic work. One line of attack held that he was uninterested in the long term ramifications of his theories because he had no children.
Keynes's friends in the Bloomsbury Group were initially surprised when, in his later years, he began dating and pursuing affairs with women, demonstrating himself to be bisexual. Ray Costelloe (who would later marry Oliver Strachey) was an early heterosexual interest of Keynes. In 1906, Keynes had written of this infatuation that, "I seem to have fallen in love with Ray a little bit, but as she isn't male I haven't [been] able to think of any suitable steps to take."
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