Monday, March 03, 2014

Keynes had doubts

A strange article from 1933 on 'Globalization and self-sufficiency'. It starts by extolling free trade both materially and morally for the whole world (either he was unaware of opium wars or was catering to the audience) and then expresses his doubts:
"The decadent international but individualistic capitalism, in the hands of which we found ourselves, 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."
Possibly what was worrying him was the rise of USA. Earlier "The investment of British savings in rails and rolling stock to be installed by British engineers to carry British emigrants to new fields and pastures, the fruits of which they would return in due proportion to those whose frugality had made these things possible, was not economic internationalism remotely resembling in its essence the part ownership of a German corporation by a speculator in Chicago, or of the municipal improvements of Rio Janeiro by an English spinster. Yet it was the type of organisation necessary to facilitate the former which has eventually ended up in the latter. In the second place,..."
Elsewhere in the same article:
"Ideas, knowledge, science, hospitality, travel – these are the things which should of their nature be international. But let goods be homespun whenever it is reasonably and conveniently possible, and, above all, let finance be primarily national.
For these strong reasons, therefore, I am inclined to the belief that a greater measure of national self-sufficiency and economic isolation among countries may tend to serve the cause of peace, rather than otherwise."

Whatever his motives were (my suspicion is that he was worried about Britain loosing out to USA) many economists and others who supported globalization could not have been unaware of this or Kalecki's views on unemployment.

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