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The End of Laissez-Faire:
John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946) was one of the most influential economists of the first half of the twentieth century. His theory of government stimulation of the economy through deficit spending influenced Franklin D. Roosevelt's "New Deal" administration and inspired his most famous work, General Theory of Employment, Interest and money (1935-36). In the End of Laissez-Faire (1926), Keynes presents a brief historical review of laissez-faire economic policy. Though he agrees in principle that the marketplace should be free of government interference, he suggests that government can play a constructive role in protecting individuals from the worst harms of capitalism's cycles, especially as concerns unemployment. When the Great Depression struck a few years later, this work seemed very prescient. Keynes first earned widespread prominence immediately following World War I, when he published The Economic Consequences of the Peace in 1919. This book gained a good deal of notoriety because of its withering portraits of both French premier Georges Clemenceau and U.S. President Woodrow Wilson. Keynes criticized the Allied victors for signing a treaty that would have ruinous consequences for Europe, if not modified as he suggested Unfortunately, few leaders appreciated Keynes's criticisms, and he saw his worst fears realized in the rise of Hitler and the devastation of World War II. Keynes's brilliant mind and lucid writing are evident on every page. Both of these works are still well worth reading for his profound knowledge of economics. [via]