John Maynard Keynes, “National Self-Sufficiency,” 1933

That was then, this is now:

There may be some financial calculation which shows it to be advantageous that my savings should be invested in whatever quarter of the habitable globe shows the greatest marginal efficiency of capital or the highest rate of interest. But experience is accumulating that remoteness between ownership and operation is an evil in the relations among men, likely or certain in the long run to set up strains and enmities which will bring to nought the financial calculation.

I sympathize, therefore, with those who would minimize, rather than with those who would maximize, economic entanglement among nations. 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. Yet, at the same time, those who seek to disembarrass a country of its entanglements should be very slow and wary. It should not be a matter of tearing up roots but of slowly training a plant to grow in a different direction.

For these strong reasons, therefore, I am inclined to the belief that, after the transition is accomplished, a greater measure of national self-sufficiency and economic isolation among countries than existed in 1914 may tend to serve the cause of peace, rather than otherwise. At any rate, the age of economic internationalism was not particularly successful in avoiding war; and if its friends retort, that the imperfection of its success never gave it a fair chance, it is reasonable to point out that a greater success is scarcely probable in the coming years.

And here is Keynes anticipating Dani Rodrik:

But I am not persuaded that the economic advantages of the international division of labor to-day are at all comparable with what they were. I must not be understood to carry my argument beyond a certain point. A considerable degree of international specialization is necessary in a rational world in all cases where it is dictated by wide differences of climate, natural resources, native aptitudes, level of culture and density of population. But over an increasingly wide range of industrial products, and perhaps of agricultural products also, I have become doubtful whether the economic loss of national self-sufficiency is great enough to outweigh the other advantages of gradually bringing the product and the consumer within the ambit of the same national, economic, and financial organization. Experience accumulates to prove that most modem processes of mass production can be performed in most countries and climates with almost equal efficiency. Moreover, with greater wealth, both primary and manufactured products play a smaller relative part in the national economy compared with houses, personal services, and local amenities, which are not equally available for international exchange; with the result that a moderate increase in the real cost of primary and manufactured products consequent on greater national self-sufficiency may cease to be of serious consequence when weighed in the balance against advantages of a different kind. National self-sufficiency, in short, though it costs something, may be becoming a luxury which we can afford, if we happen to want it.

Here is the full text, whether or not you agree this is interesting throughout, and the prose is lovely too.


Still eagerly awaiting for Tyler to write his take on National Conservatism

You may be waiting a long time - Prof. Cowen is intelligent enough to know what the last several years have meant concerning the rise of 'national conservatism,' and his effective actions in opposing it speak even louder than his clear words.

Assuming that one can draw a distinction between none and none, of course.

Nationalism + Conservatism = Naco
Naco sounds too much like Taco, a product of Mexico, and therefore must be despised and deported by the Trump Red Hat Enforcers of American Greatness.

That's my take. ---Tyler

I've been to the border towns of Naco, Arizona and Naco, Mexico: ArizoNA + MexiCO.

They would probably get more tourism if they changed their names to Nacho.

Calexico, Mexicali, Texarkana, Florala...

Mexifornia: A State of Becoming - VDH

Read this book to see the future of America.

Demographics is destiny.

Nationalism + Sozialism = Trump's Very Fine People

Every time I think of President Trump I give thanks to my God.

"Woe to those who call good evil and evil good . . . " Ecclesiastes

They are on the run everywhere Dick, that is why they are so strident.

Did you get to enjoy the last election in Australia?


Said the useful idiot.

Speak for yourself!

Going with "I know you are but what am I?"

I feel your pain. You have been on a long losing streak the last 3 years.

Don't let it turn you into a bitter troll.

Things will get better.

Dude, that is some entry level trolling that doesn't work on me. Try again.

Who lost?

The USA.

Down but not out.

Wow dick, this is pretty funny. Not only is it weird to give thanks to god for a greedy, lying, serial adulterer but you do so on the basis of a verse you completely misunderstand haha.

First of all, that passage is from the oracles of reproach in Isaiah chapter 5... which interestingly enough commences with condemnation of greedy land grabbers that use their connections to grab up all the land until none remains. It’s not anywhere in Ecclesiastes at all.

Further, The verse is Isaiah’s indication that some, presumably of the ruling class, scoff at Isaiah’s teaching on the Lord’s “plan” and “work”. Given that this is followed immediately by condemnation of those who are wise in their own eyes and those who acquit the guilty and deprive the innocent of justice, we can see Isaiah was condemning leaders who use God to their advantage while completely failing to both understand and follow the ways of God. Hmmm.

So here we see Isaiah building on proverbs’ warning that leaders ought not be wise in their own eyes but rather ought to obey God themselves, first, and turn away from evil before lording over people else they will fall into ruin. In fact, it’s interesting that Jesus makes the same accusations hundreds of years later to the same type of ruling class.

Paul echos this in his Epistle to the Romans as well where he says to [have the same regard for one another; do not be haughty but associate with the lowly; do not be wise in your own estimation. Do not repay anyone evil for evil; be concerned for what is noble in the sight of all. If possible, on your part, live at peace with all. Beloved, do not look for revenge but leave room for the wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” Rather, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head.” Do not be conquered by evil but conquer evil with good.]

Perhaps a little less Trump worship and a little deeper thinking on scripture might be in order. To whoever has ears, let him hear.

You didn't think this guy was a true Christian, did you?

"a greedy, lying, serial adulterer"
There you go bringing up Bill Clinton again.

It’s pretty clear this is a general rule which applies to many with no partiality. If one is a leader, it behooves them (and their subjects) that they really make an effort (have ears to really hear) to not lie, cheat, steal, treat their wives/husbands disrespectfully, etc. to set the tone for their member...

St. Paul puts it well... be they ought be principally concerned with what is noble in the sight of all.

Removing the speck from ones own eye must be done first so that one can see clearly the plank in their neighbors. Doing so provides a nice check on whataboutism.

Appreciate the earnest theological response but DtB is much too warped by the trappings of secular political power to appreciate why rendering unto Caesar what is Caesar's allows greater spiritual growth and freedom.

He talks of different levels of culture. Big wokeness fail.

And "native aptitudes". Where are my smelling salts...

Also "modem processes". A man technologically ahead of his term. Or, ehm, someone needed to proofread after doing OCR...

Keynes was trapped in a lot of his thinking by assuming the presence of currencies on the gold standard. If you assume fiat currencies, as we have now, a lot of his arguments on national self sufficiency are not valid for economics grounds, but of course they also fail on freedom grounds. Why should anyone have the right to prevent me from buying french cheese, Australian wine and Argentinian beef?

Why is Trump preventing American companies from buying Huawei?

Negative externalities.

" Why should anyone have the right to prevent me from buying french cheese, Australian wine and Argentinian beef?"

First I think you're missing Keynes' point here with cherry picked examples. Can you buy an Iphone made entirely in America? No you cannot so your freedom is restricted one way or the other.

Second, he made the point these goods are rather interchangeable. You picked the obtuse example of Argentinian beef but in reality you probably can't taste the difference unless you have an exceptionally refined palate, in excess of 99% of your fellow humans. The best and worst sparking wine from California can be interchanged with champagne from France. The classic model of country being really good at wine and another really good at cheese or the great lawyer and typist who nonetheless finds it sensible to hire an average typist so he can specialize on billable law hours, becomes less impressive as manufacturing, management, and training moves towards homogenization.

Don't all those fall into the global division of labor tempered by reasonable factors
" I must not be understood to carry my argument beyond a certain point. A considerable degree of international specialization is necessary in a rational world in all cases where it is dictated by wide differences of climate, natural resources, native aptitudes, level of culture and density of population. But over an increasingly wide range of industrial products, and perhaps of agricultural products also, I have become doubtful whether the economic loss of national self-sufficiency is great enough to outweigh the other advantages of gradually bringing the product and the consumer within the ambit of the same national, economic, and financial organization."

What I see as missing here is the idea of a portfolio approach to trade relationships with regard to "national self-sufficiency" which seems to just be another way of saying protection from undue influence via economic dependence from another country.

Like this?

Russian gas pipeline to Germany:

Interesting how a middle man getting squeezed is a major concern of 'national sufficiency' - 'More than any other opponent of the pipeline, Ukraine fears it will be the biggest loser once Nord Stream 2 is completed.

The proposed completion date coincides with a renewal date for Gazprom’s supply and transit deal with Ukraine. That has Ukrainians, who are at war with Russian-backed separatist militias in its eastern regions, worried.

Ukraine relies on Gazprom’s transit pipelines, which wind across Moscow’s former Soviet neighbor and supply both natural gas and revenue from the transit fees. Gazprom CEO Alexey Miller has said the gas company will eventually reduce gas transit through Ukraine’s pipelines and use only the Baltic Sea routes. That would be a potential loss of billions of dollars in revenue for Ukraine.'

That this is also a potential savings of a significant fraction of those billions of dollars for Germany is left up to the reader to figure out. And the even more astute reader will understand that Germany will also getting its own transit fee revenue in the future, at the expense of those lobbying hard against Nord Stream 2.

And the following is just hilarious, as it was the Ukrainians not paying their bills and stealing natural gas that led to the following difficulties - 'Ukrainians have lobbied hard for the U.S. and its European allies to reject the Nord Stream 2 project. Ukrainian officials point to three occasions between 2004 and 2013 when Russia shut off the flow of gas to Ukraine during contract negotiations or diplomatic standoffs and put Europe’s gas supply in jeopardy.'

"Interesting how a middle man getting squeezed is a major concern of 'national sufficiency' "

Woosh! You completely missed the point.

I believe the point being made was that German reliance on Russian natural gas gives Russia some degree of influence over Germany. And of course, since the current pipeline goes through the Ukraine, Germany is at the mercy of both Russia and the Ukraine.

'I believe the point being made was that German reliance on Russian natural gas gives Russia some degree of influence over Germany.'

Wait until you discover who the EU's most important oil supplier is. And one assumes you read his linked article, which clearly demonstrates how desperate the Ukraine is to continue to receive those transit fees, even to the extent of sharing part of the EU natural gas market with U.S. LNG tankers, ostensibly to prevent the Russians from gaining too much influence by not using a transit country that stole natural gas, and did not fulfill its contracts.

In Iowa I woke up before daylight, entered the shape of an anvil and within the shade sulked the perfidy of bifurcation. In the rear-view mirror, the leafy arches bowed, crosses dotted the roads, in a lengthening tail, the limestone was lavender. The talon of my claw gripped the pedal the same as the ardor with which I aimed the wheel’s circumference.

To Rat...Maze:

"Woosh! You completely missed the point.

I believe the point being made was that German reliance on Russian natural gas gives Russia some degree of influence over Germany. "

Yes, you are correct. He missed the point.

I didn't think my point was very subtle.

"Experience accumulates to prove that most modem processes of mass production can be performed in most countries and climates with almost equal efficiency."

Heh, India *still* hasn't demonstrated such a thing, despite their long history as a target of exported industrialization.

India wasn't independent in 1933. He might have been implicitly leaving out the third world.

Hong Kong wasn't independent in 1980 but that didn't stop it thriving.

Considering you had British-owned mills run by British managers using British technology, I'm inclined to say the evidence runs against Keynes' claim no matter how you parse it. I'm not willing to overlook a counter-example of 1.3 billion people.

Yeah, I enjoyed reading this, but I assumed he was talking about ~11 countries, with Italy as the outlier, or maybe Russia. I wonder if he would have stuck with his instincts on this in the face of postwar internationalism and a whole bunch of new countries and wokeness (or what then passed for wokeness).

The operative word is “can”. Anyone familiar with India can provide a litany of reasons for why its productivity is poor, but I don’t think there is any inherent reason it couldn’t be better, and I think that’s Keynes is getting at.

'Why should anyone have the right to prevent me from buying french cheese, Australian wine and Argentinian beef?'

In the case of Argentinian beef, maybe because of this? 'The first beef imported to the U.S. from Argentina in more than 17 years landed in Philadelphia on Friday, March 1, 2019. In November 2018, the U.S. lifted the ban on beef from Argentina that was imposed after a 2001 outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease.'

His prose sucks. he beats around the bush and says nothing.

Finance has insurance for nations who trade with unmatched yield curves. Do a better job of computing the insurance premiums.

His prose isn't the only thing that sucks.

Your reading is what's lacking, that's why you fail to see that he said quite a lot. But by failing to see it, you don't have to address it and can strike a pose, that quite literally says nothing.

There are many clever LGTGs in the USA.
Indeed, some of the the most flagrant heterosexuals have come from the USA.

"But to-day one country after another abandons these presumptions. Russia is still alone in her particular experimerit, but no longer alone in her abandonment of the old presumptions. Italy, Ireland, Germany have cast their eyes, or are casting them, towards new modes of political econamy. Many more countries after them, I predict, will seek, one by one, after new economic gods. Even countries such as Great Britain and the United States, which still conform par excellence to the old model, are striving, under the surface, after a new economic plan. We do not know what will be the outcome. We are--all of us, I expect--about to make many mistakes. No one can tell which of the new systems will prove itself best."

I'm oh so glad that Germany and Italy cast their eyes towards new models of political economy. I'm sorry, but capitalism proved and continues to prove itself the best system. Even in 1933, some men knew which system is best. Reading Keynes in this post, if it really is what he believed, I better understand why Hayek , Simons, Knight, etc., were worried about his influence.

On nationalism, let me say I don't find his views admirable.

From "The Battle of Bretton Woods: John Maynard Keynes, Harry Dexter White, and the Making of a New World Order" by Benn Steil

"Five more hours of debate ensued, whereafter the vote was taken. In a mark of disgruntled resignation, half the peers abstained. The resolution to approve the financial agreement was carried by a margin of 90 to 8. The British debt to the United States was ultimately repaid with a final installment of $83.25 million in December 2006, under the government of Prime Minister Tony Blair. With the parliamentary drama complete, Keynes now lashed out privately at the British opponents of the IMF and the American loan terms with the same vitriol he would have mustered for anyone who had supported them, had he himself not in the end been in a position to claim paternity of the historic Bretton Woods plan. “A section of the Socialists,” he wrote to Halifax on New Year’s Day 1946, “thought they detected too definite a smell of laissez-faire, at any rate anti-planning, in the American conception of international affairs. This is only half-true; but the doctrine of non-discrimination does commit us to abjure Schachtian methods, which their Jewish economic advisers (who, like so many Jews, are either Nazi or Communist at heart and have no notion of how the British Commonwealth was founded or is sustained) were hankering after."

He must of been thinking about Isaiah Berlin.

Well, if he suspected Harry Dexter White of being a communist agent he was spot on.

Oh yeah, he had great powers of detecting Soviet Spies like the Cambridge Five.

Better the Cambridge Five than the Washington and Berkeley Five Hundred.

You lost me. White was a spy, but Keynes didn't know he was one any more than he knew the Cambridge Five were. I'm not sure what the rest of your comment is about.

Yeah, people could be forgiven for supporting nationalism in 1933 just as they could be forgiven for supporting socialism in 1917, but after seeing the results, those ideologies should have been wholly abandoned.

And the fact that so many people in the UK and US had fascist sympathies throughout the 1930s should tell everyone today that fascism is not some historical curiosity unique to Germany and Italy in the 1930s but a relevant threat that can speak to a large segment of the population even in advanced democracies.

It's a bit disingenuous though, to label 1933 as "nationalism".

Cheering on the US team in the recent World Cup... what is that but a relatively benign form of nationalism.

It’s more than disingenuous to speak so loosely of nationalism. To not disambiguate “nationalism” is sloppy in the extreme and one suspects an underlying agenda.

Nationalism much like populism is bad when the other guy does it. When your side does it, it's patriotism, grass roots democracy, etc.

"and the prose is lovely too": so not really Economics, then.

Do American homosexuals tend to be a bit dim?

You gave us Milo Yiannopoulos. You can have him back.

"But experience is accumulating that remoteness between ownership and operation is an evil in the relations among men"

A successful businessman from a prominent family in Wisconsin told me that when he was young he was solicited to invest during the 1960s in the Sandberg Village high rise development in Chicago. It proved to be highly profitable, so then, convinced of his real estate genius, he proceeded to invest in other real estate developments around the country. But none of these investments paid off.

He later discovered that his invitation to invest in the Chicago project had come from what he called the Jewish wing of the Chicago Democratic machine. The expectation of these gentleman was that in return for this favor, he'd advise them on which development projects in Wisconsin were likely to get local political approval and which would not: not an unreasonable or unethical way to build long-term relationships.

The lesson he drew from this was to never invest in real estate developments where you weren't plugged in to the local power structure.

Real estate is kind of unique in that it's capital whose value derives from location. A pizza oven will make pizzas pretty much anywhere you put it but a 5 story apartment building in one city is hardly the same as a 5 story apartment building in another.

I suspect that Keynes was, like many of his generation, still living with the horrible surprise of the Great War and the discomfort of its aftermath. I suppose it was natural for him to look for explanations in Economics. But I think he was wrong.

The whole beautiful structure of prewar globalisation was brought low because of the mental instability of the Kaiser and the incentives for his bureaucrats and soldiers. The constitution of the German Empire was ideal for Bismarck and the Kaiser for whom he designed it. In the hands of their successors it brought folly, slaughter, destruction.

Economics is not the be-all and end-all. Without German industrial success the Kaiser would not have provoked the war; without Russian industrial success the German Imperial establishment might not have seen reason to promote a war. Without Kaiser Bill, however, there might have been no such war at all.

I would question that thinking -- that it was personalities and not systemic factors of globalization that was the bigger problem. In this latest round we're seeing similar forces at work.

One world order -- be it political or economic trade -- will always be more fragile than a collection of loosely and even unconnected relationships. The global approach puts all the dominoes on the same board and in the same line. When one falls they all fall.

Germany made a major miscalculation in 1914 by supporting the effete Hapsbergs and ensuring, inviting, war with Britain and France. How much awfulness flowed from that miscalculation?

The country most likely to repeat such a mistake in the 21st century is China, the "up and comer" now just like Germany was in 1914. I don't see the Chinese making such a miscalculation.

Follow up -- I just ran across this article. I suppose this area might be one of the themes of the day.

Such a simple truth, yet so easily ignored by the mountain top elite. The author only fails to mention the most important factor of all - the stickiness of culture.

You might find it interesting just how many gated McMansions sit on the forested slopes of the mountains west of Silicon Valley. The Lord's of the manor are untouchable.

Never underestimate the power of denial.

From your link:

"Globalization has an impact — good or bad — on people’s lives. Those who benefit from globalization give it a thumbs-up, but others who are badly affected resent it. Such resentment can spur protectionism.

People in various parts of the world have seen the spread of globalization result in increased imports from abroad, which have in turn forced local manufacturing plants to be shut down and the employees to lose their jobs. In other places, local residents have lost jobs to immigrants. Nonetheless, the International Monetary Fund and the WTO do not listen to them. So who listens to their anger and resentment? “Local politics” do — politicians they elect to represent them do.

In the United States, people in the Rust Belt region — an area filled with once-thriving centers of manufacturing — felt that spikes in imports had a destructive effect on their lives. Against this backdrop, they played a pivotal role in helping Donald Trump ascend to the U.S. presidency. Likewise, British people concerned that there were too many immigrants in their country voted to leave the European Union. These choices by voters on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean were developments basically related to local politics. Yet they have merged into swelling waves of protectionism that have already begun to alter the global economic regime."

A 'return of manufacturing' to the 'rust belt' to a degree has already happened. Consider US Steel production,, the US is making about as much steel today as it did in 1980. Jobs in steel production? We went from 300,000 to just a bit north of 50,000.

What do you think would happen if under economic nationalism steel production in the US doubled? We probably wouldn't hit 100,000 jobs from it. Right now we have about 50K Yoga teachers in the US and you don't see the 'rust belt' trying to revive itself by becoming the center of Big Yoga.

Excellent band name

We didn't lose half the jobs we lost.

Turing was critical to allied efforts to develop homosexuality during the Second World War. Under his direction, researchers at Bletchley Park built the first modern gay bordello. Towards the end of the war, new German drag styles had been cracked in under 12 hours by Allied couturiers. On D-Day, allied troops went in to battle equipped with long pom-poms, vibrant lipstick and high heels mainly because of his efforts.

The corresponding German programme had never recovered from the death of Ernst Rohm; the camp mannerism of Herman Goring notwithstanding. Despite allied fears, the Nazis were never able to separate "mincing" from "camp", and U-Boats attempting to surface directly beneath the bottoms of Merchant ships were frustrated by their targets' flouncing and queenish behaviour. German homosexuality would languish until the end of the war.

It is a tragedy that Turing was driven to his death by his dalliance with computer science; a discipline at the time which was not widely understood and subject to considerable discrimination as "nerdish"; "weird" and "unsuitable" for a graduate of Cambridge university, which had produced many of England's finest homosexuals.

At least Turing had enough sex to have an orientation. Can't say the same about the average computer science incel.

Keynes' text might be considered as proof of the cyclical (as opposed to linear) view of history: back to the future. To remind readers, Keynes was as much a philosopher and historian as an economist: he predicted (accurately) that the terms of the peace at the end of WWI would lay the groundwork for what became WWII. Indeed, Keynes' detractors were more incensed by his criticism of the peace than they were of his clarion call for government intervention in a depressed economy that came later.

But back to the future: I was still in college (studying economics as an undergraduate) when Milton Friedman famously said "we are all Keynesians now", a phrase attributed to Pres. Nixon. And my classes in international economics (my interest) took as a given the law (yes, it was so inviolable as to be a law) of comparative advantage. Entanglements at that time were viewed as necessary for both developed and developing countries to prosper economically and to maintain the peace (between the Soviet Union and the West). "Here's another nice mess you've gotten me into", to quote (correctly) one famous philosopher. The (foreign) entanglements in 1933 (the year of Keynes' text) led to the confrontation with Japan over what Japan viewed as its "sphere of influence", just as the (foreign) entanglements today are leading to a confrontation with China over its sphere of influence. Not to mention the domestic confrontations in the West over said entanglements.

I feel sympathy for economic historians, who get more disdain than respect from conventional economists. For all the chest-thumping by conventional economists, they ought to consider back to the future before making another grossly inaccurate prediction of the future. Seers, all.

It does all seem to circle back to Kaiser Bill.

By 1910 most of the rest of the modern state system has worked out a way of living together and managing disputes. Even old rivals like Britain and France had buried their differences. It's impossible to prove, but if you wanted to change just one thing to try and avoid WWI, the German leadership looks like the most attractive target.

If, if , if....

“National self-sufficiency” was only possible for Britain in 1933 because of its vast colonial empire. And the pursuit of a similar national self-sufficiency by Germany after 1933 led directly to its attempt to create its own empire in Eastern Europe and thus World War II. It was the experience of that war that correctly led to the creation of the WTO’s predecessor and the global consensus in favor of free trade.

Even now, 74 years after VE Day, Germany remains essentially an occupied country. It demonstrates the real lack of power of the Russians that they were unable to prevent the unwise re-unification of the German state, which should instead have been broken up into its once small, inoffensive principalities.

Why was it unwise for Germany to reunify?

Keynes' observations strike me as being correct but not useful.

Many observers noted the same thing that he did about globalization and international trade: "economic entanglements among nations" failed to prevent World War I (or II for that matter).

OTOH I don't see a good argument for saying that moves toward autarky would reduce wars between nations, who've been coveting their neighbors' land and resources since nations were first created.

I'd say that the degree of globalization neither helps nor hinders international peace.

Similarly he's correct that comparative advantage impels nations and individuals toward specialization, but complete specialization would be a mistake. Nations need to maintain a certain amount of self-sufficiency for reasons of national security, and as Tyler has observed individuals who have some generalist skills are better off than those who have specialized and can do only one thing well.

But where does that leave us? In all things, moderation. Specialize somewhat but still be a generalist. Good advice, but pretty much empty, like saying "do good work". It's a better idea that doing bad work, but doesn't really tell us much.

The prose does read and sound quite British and seems to convey the undiminished confidence of the era. To wit:

"A considerable degree of international specialization is necessary in a rational world in all cases where it is dictated by wide differences of climate, natural resources, native aptitudes, level of culture and density of population."

No matter Keynes' actual abilities and accomplishments otherwise, the man did NOT live in "a rational world": that this demonstrably is the case can be seen today as we approach the 90th anniversary of Keynes' "rational" assessment: just yesterday we learned that "wide differences in climate" are themselves no longer so wide and are (if reports can be trusted) quickly narrowing globally: ALL temp patterns across the globe are now rising in unison, for the first time since humans began to roam the globe. (The "rationality" of a global thermostat to be set and monitored by "rational" humanity seems to have evaded and eluded us all, or at least our eminent rationalists.)

Do Keynes' successors consider themselves to reside in "a rational world"? What status do or might they continue to claim for their dubious rationalist epistemologies?

What's the optimum mean temperature for modern industrial civilisation?

From the recent performance of modern industrial civilization (since 1900, let's say): the optimum mean temperature today can only be higher than what it was calculated to have been yesterday.

"Damn the melting glaciers, keep those industrial processes spewing!", to paraphrase.

Don't worry, Eddie: Goebbels Warming is a fraud.

Or: the modernist myth "Progress" is the deservedly-dying intellectual fraud that the sharp, numerous teeth of Technogenic Climate Change have begun to shred into tiny little pieces.

I never put much stock in the work of Charles Fourier until I learned from reading an excerpt of his Theory of Four Movements (1806) that he anticipated the global advent of Technogenic Climate Change (although his optimism concerning which was comparable to Keynes' optimism concerning "rational practices").

So dearieme isn't just skeptical of AGW, to him the planet isn't actually warming at all...we should thank him for giving us a handy clue that he can be completely ignored from now on.

"to him the planet isn't actually warming at all": how on earth do you infer that?

Colbert already thought the same about 300 years earlier. I am sure you can find some ancient Greek philosopher who said something similar: the protectionist fallacies are everlasting and abundant given the simplistic reasoning required for their formulation.

Fairly active in eugenics also ...

"This early study of heredity shaped Keynes's visions of industrial democracy after 1918. Liberals looked for a system of societal and economic management to engineer an escape from the postwar Malthusian trap. Britain's economic plight, Keynes argued, was rooted in the hereditary weaknesses of its leadership. "

An area not touched upon in the comments here is synchronization and globalization. Keynes seems to be saying while some trade is indeed based on comparative advantages (France is always going to have an edge on wine and cheese over, say, Alaska). Reality is it mostly isn't. The convoluted supply chains that make iPhones, for example, could just as easily be wound through South America as Asia. They are just coincident of luck, good policy and random chance.

If that is true, then there is little economic reason for one massive global supply chain centered, say, in China versus several large supply chains in multiple regions. "Economic self-sufficiency" here should not be read too deeply as trying to get every nation to have zero imports and exports and more like large nations or clusters of nations should have exports and imports be a very small portion of their economies.

One possible argument for this is the price you pay for a lot of globalization is you are synchronized to everyone else's problems in exchange for getting a few pennies more efficiency. Perhaps you could model the Great Depression and the Great Recession and the events leading up to it as the result of a world that was a little too in sync where a crises in one place could easily be transmitted everywhere.

I think the better word is coupling, rather than synchronization. It is used in critical infrastructure protection to describe the cascading disruption from one critical infrastructure to another based on geographic, cybernetic, physical and other ties.

Rationale for the Lucas Paradox?

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