John Maynard Keynes was a British economist whose economic theories helped shape the way the world looked at money during the 20th century.
His influence has been huge and it is still visible in many modern and thriving economies today. Let’s take a look at 10 interesting facts about John Maynard Keynes.
John Maynard Keynes Facts
1. John Maynard Keynes was born in 1883
John Maynard Keynes was born in Cambridge in 1883. His mother, Florence Ada Keynes, was an author and his father, John Neville Keynes was an economist and a professor of moral sciences at the University of Cambridge, which Keynes himself would later attend.
John Milton Keynes was the oldest of three, with Margaret Neville Keynes being born in 1885 and his brother, Geoffrey Keynes in 1887. The three children were said to have a very comfortable and loving childhood and all three of them would go on to find a lot of success in later life.
2. John Maynard Keynes’ theories and ideas had a resurgence in the early 21st Century
John Maynard Keynes’s economic theories fell somewhat out of favour towards the end of the 20th century, with many scholars and economists criticising his approaches.
An interesting fact about John Maynard Keynes is that his ideas rose back to relevance again however during the financial crisis of 2008. With many of the world’s biggest economies struggling, several of them turned their heads back to a Keynesian way of thinking. Gordon Brown, Prime Minister of the UK, and Barrack Obama, President of the United States both adopted his theories in a bid to help sure up their economies following the crash.
3. John Maynard Keynes was married only once
John Maynard Keynes never held down a real relationship with a woman until he was in his late 30s when he met Lydia Lopokova, a Russian ballerina. The two began dating in 1921 and would later get married in 1925 when Keynes was 42 years old. They would stay together until the end of their lives in what was said to have been a very fulfilling marriage.
4. John Maynard Keynes was Bisexual
Despite getting married to a woman later in life, an interesting Keynes fact is that his earlier relationships were almost all exclusively with men. Two of his more famous earlier partners were Dilly Knox and Daniel Macmillan.
Keynes was always open about his sexuality, despite facing a lot of attacks about it during the time that he was alive. It is suspected that he continued to have affairs with men later in his life, despite being married.
5. John Maynard Keynes was an early advocate of women’s rights
John Maynard Keynes was ahead of his time in many ways and one of the lesser-known ones was in his advocacy for women’s rights over their own bodies and for society to be more accepting of people’s sexualities.
He famously gave a speech in Moscow in 1925 about the need for contraceptives and women’s power over this and was met with laughter. He would later go on to speak on several occasions about contraceptives, women’s decisions over their own bodies and society’s acceptance of all sexualities and people. He was seen as being incredibly forward-thinking for his time period.
6. John Maynard Keynes only briefly studied Economics
John Maynard Keynes may be known as the most important economist of the 20th century but as it turns out, that was never his intention.
Keynes studied mathematics at Cambridge and had excelled at the subject but he wanted to pursue more philosophical trains of thought. After leaving Cambridge for a while, Keynes realised he had greatly missed the surroundings of the university and his friends and would return to attend economics lectures for one term. This was Keynes’s only formal education in economics and he never sat an examination or earned a qualification in the subject, an interesting fact about John Maynard Keynes.
7. John Maynard Keynes theories were not without their critics
John Maynard Keynes is now universally recognized as one of the most important economic thinkers of all time but his views were not always so well accepted.
During the 1920s, Keynes policies were largely attacked by right-wing politicians who claimed that Keynes was too liberal and that his theory would be economic suicide. As the years went by, it wasn’t just the right side of the political spectrum that was opposed to Keynes’s ideas, with many Marxists and Communists also criticizing his approach.
Friedrich Hayek, an Austrian-British economist was one of his biggest critics, arguing that his ideas gave too power much to the state and could pave the way to extreme socialism. President Harry Truman was also publicly critical of Keynes’s theories.
8. John Maynard Keynes died in 1946
John Maynard Keynes had suffered from ill health for large portions of his life and despite still remaining active, he suffered a series of heart attacks in the 1940s which would ultimately prove to be fatal.
After a difficult trip to the United States, John Maynard Keynes returned back to the United Kingdom in 1946 and would suffer a final heart attack on April 21st. He was 64 years old at the time of his death.
9. John Maynard Keynes’s biggest economic theory is known as Keynesian economics
During the Great Depression in the 1930s, John Maynard Keynes developed his Keynesian economic theory. It argued that the government should increase demand to boost growth. This basically means that the government should spend money in order to make more money, even if it means going further into debt, an interesting fact about John Maynard Keynes.
The theory has been applied several times and is often used in times of financial crisis. The theory has both its champions and its detractors but it still is seen as a viable option and approach for a lot of countries to this day.
10. John Maynard Keynes helped the British Government during World War I
At the outbreak of World War I, John Maynard Keynes was called up to help the British government with the economy.
Keynes worked with the treasury and helped them make several important decisions, including opting not to convert banknotes into gold, a decision that proved incredibly wise as the war raged on.
Keynes was given permission to not take part in the battle as a conscientious objector providing that he continued to provide the British government with his services during the war.
John Maynard Keynes’s economic strategies are still used by governments around the world today. He is often viewed as one of, if not the, most important economists of the 20th century.
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