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The Economic Consequences of the Peace (1919)

by John Maynard Keynes

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Needed to get more acquainted with Keynes, so I'm starting at the beginning.

This is one of those classics which have permeated modern thought so thoroughly that you feel as though you've read it already. The Treaty of Versailles was Bad. It focused too much on Reparations and Economic Sanctions and the Guilt Clause. Germany had to pay for all of the costs of the rest of the central powers. The conditions imposed by the victors, this Carthaginian Peace, were incredibly dangerous. Keynes feared further mass starvation, which is one of the few things he got wrong here. Instead, there is the chaos of the Weimar years, hyperinflation, Hitler, and so on. You've likely heard this story already.

Keynes tells it clearly. If the rest of his stuff is this lucid, I'll be mighty impressed.

The last of the reparations, by the way, were only paid off two years ago (2010). ( )
  HadriantheBlind | Mar 30, 2013 |
Food for thought here, and especially relevant in current times. ( )
  jvgravy | Aug 28, 2012 |
Keynes' The Economic Consequences of the Peace is a good companion piece to Margaret MacMillan's Paris 1919. Keynes participated as an expert in the Paris peace treaty negotiations which were mainly one-sided negotiations among the Allies themselves (mainly the French and Italians vs. the Anglo-Americans). The Germans, the Austrians and the Hungarians (the latter had to wait for the Treaty of Trianon in 1920) were only consulted post factum. Keynes holds Woodrow Wilson to be the main culprit, considering him to be too slow, ignorant and inflexible. One in a long line of US presidents not ready for the international parquet, whose failure, however, had the gravest of consequences. Similar to Bush's crazy adventure in Iraq, Wilson claimed the high ground of applying only moral and universal principles while counteracting and undermining these with naked power plays. Either an appeal to naked power or a pure application of principles would have worked. It was the mix that was toxic, applying principles only as long as it was convenient.

Keynes also shows that essential parts of the treaty were not grounded in fact. The restrictions and reparations placed on Germany were counterproductive and self-defeating. Depriving Germany of the necessary coal, ships and rolling stock of its railways crippled the economic recovery. The failure of the Allies (and especially the US) to net the internal war debt obligations meant that the weakest nations were plagued with high interest payments. Keynes also advocated for a sort of Marshall plan which surely would have helped Europe recover. Written in shocked frustration about a clearly unworkable treaty, this lean booklet is a fast and concise read that offers lessons what happens when burdens are placed upon third parties without those parties' involvement in the negotiations. Today's efforts to make the PIIGS pay for the bankers' mistakes run into the same calamities that Keynes foresaw in 1919. ( )
2 vote jcbrunner | Mar 31, 2012 |
Amazing book. It's like reading Kinsley in 2002, talking about what a disaster Iraq was going to be. Utterly prescient; utterly correct.
  bobshackleton | Mar 22, 2008 |
A brilliant polemic - and quite often accurate inits prophecies. ( )
1 vote smerus | Dec 28, 2006 |
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Volcker, PaulIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0140188053, Paperback)

John Maynard Keynes, at the time a rising young economist, abruptly resigned his position as adviser to the British delegation negotiating the peace treaty ending World War I. Frustrated and angered by the Allies' focus on German war guilt, Keynes predicted that the vindictive reparations policy, which locked Germany into long-term payments, would not only stifle the German economy for another generation but leave Europe in ruins.

Published in 1919, Keynes's The Economic Consequences of the Peace aroused heated debates throughout Europe; his remarkably prescient conclusions were frequently cited by German leaders during the decades between the wars. Keynes's well-reasoned yet impassioned arguments, peppered with biting portraits of the statesen involved in the peace treaty—including Llyod George, Georges Clemenceau, and Woodrow Wilson—brought him immediate fame.

"The most important economic document relating to World War I and its aftermath" —John Kenneth Galbraith

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:04:50 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Generally regarded as the most influential social science treatise of the 20th century, this work by legendary economist John Maynard Keynes is relevant reading even today for anyone who wants to understand international economics and foreign affairs. First published in 1919, The Economic Consequences of the Peace created an intense and immediate controversy for its brazen criticism of world leaders and the Treaty of Versailles that ended World War I. Keynes argued that as a blueprint for peace, it was destined to create tension and conflict ahead...and history proved him right when world war broke out again within a generation. The popularity of this key work, and its place in history, helped cement Keynes's status as one of the 20th century's principal economists.… (more)

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Skyhorse Publishing

2 editions of this book were published by Skyhorse Publishing.

Editions: 1602390851, 1510714391

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