Doctor keynes: Economic theory in a diagnostic science
© Cambridge University Press 2006. THEORY AND PRACTICE For the greater part of his professional life, John Maynard Keynes was known as a practical man: the author of topical tracts on current economic questions, an adviser to, and an emissary from, the British Treasury, a successful player of financial markets for himself and King's College Cambridge, a member of corporate boards and a portfolio manager for two insurance companies. He was, in this sense, a part-time academic. And although he had long been known to be a first-rate economist, it was only after the publication of the General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money in 1936 that he was able to secure his reputation as a first-rate economic theorist. Yet, of the ten volumes of books published in his lifetime, three (the General Theory and the two volumes of the Treatise on Money, volume I subtitled The Pure Theory of Money and volume II The Applied Theory of Money) feature 'theory' in their title. And if we note that three of the remaining volumes are clearly non-economic and two are as much political as economic, the proportion of his economic books self-consciously styled as theoretical rises to three-fifths. Even one of the remaining volumes, A Tract on Monetary Reform, contains a clearly theoretical core. If Keynes was indeed a theorist, what kind of a theorist was he?
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