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The Triumphant Return of John Maynard Keynes

The current liquidity trap, and the need for fiscal policy to address, has breathed new life into the Keynesian tradition, even among right-wing economists. But the risk today is that Keynesian doctrines will be used and abused to serve some of the same interests that pushed deregulation ten years ago.

NEW YORK – We are all Keynesians now. Even the right in the United States has joined the Keynesian camp with unbridled enthusiasm and on a scale that at one time would have been truly unimaginable.

For those of us who claimed some connection to the Keynesian tradition, this is a moment of triumph, after having been left in the wilderness, almost shunned, for more than three decades. At one level, what is happening now is a triumph of reason and evidence over ideology and interests.

Economic theory had long explained why unfettered markets were not self-correcting, why regulation was needed, why there was an important role for government to play in the economy. But many, especially people working in the financial markets, pushed a type of “market fundamentalism.” The misguided policies that resulted – pushed by, among others, some members of US President-elect Barack Obama’s economic team – had earlier inflicted enormous costs on developing countries. The moment of enlightenment came only when those policies also began inflicting costs on the US and other advanced industrial countries.

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