David R. Henderson  

Who Said It?

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In his letter, he described Keynes as "the one really great man I ever knew, and for whom I had unbounded admiration. The world will be a very much poorer place without him."

This is quoted in a book that comes out next month that I'm writing a review of. Who said it? If you paste it into Google, you'll find it right away. So if you find the answer that way, please don't post it as a comment. Post it only if you're reasoning your way to it or guessing or a little of both.

Update: See my comment below for the answer.

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CATEGORIES: Economic History

COMMENTS (21 to date)
Yancey Ward writes:

I will just take the obvious answer of Hayek.

Daniel Kuehn writes:

I think this might be Russell.

Will Hayworth writes:

I think I remember Hayek having expressed that sentiment.

Cahal writes:

It is certainly Hayek.

Troy Camplin writes:

If I remember correctly, it's Hayek.

fundamentalist writes:

Hayek said it in an interview I watched years ago. the rest of his comment is equally as interesting. He said economics was just a hobby for Keynes who like to dabble in it but didn't know much. Keynes dabbled in art, theatre, literature, politics and economics, never becoming very good at any of it.

Michael stack writes:

I too would guess Hayek. If I recall they served together during WW 1 (though with Hayek being Austrian that seems odd).

Alex Theisen writes:

Hayek! I forget where precisely I read it. "Essays on Philosophy, Politics, and Economics" perhaps? He had a great piece on Keynes in it if I recall correctly.

David R. Henderson writes:

Hayek it is. The quote is from a letter that Hayek wrote Keynes's widow shortly after his death in 1946. It's quoted in Nicholas Wapshott, Keynes Hayek: The Clash that Defined Modern Economics.

David R. Henderson writes:

@Alex Theisen,
Keynes wasn't in the military during WWI. And you're right, it would have been opposing militaries. What you're probably thinking about is that LSE moved to Cambridge during WWII so that the LSEers could avoid the bombing of London. So Hayek and Keynes were colleagues. They searched the sky at night for German bombers.

Steve Sailer writes:

Hayek? Harry Dexter White? R.A. Fisher? Kim Philby? Virginia Woolf?

Steve Sailer writes:

Sir Oswald Mosley.

Steve Sailer writes:

Okay, so my first guess was right. But I think the later guesses were more fun. Keynes knew everybody, many of whom turned out to have ideologies that are out of fashion today, like Soviet agent White (co-creator of the Bretton Woods system with Keynes). Of course, Keynes was a lifelong fervent eugenicist, which is even more out of fashion than being a Stalinist these days.

Also, Keynes's personal life would be out of fashion today. He was a homosexual for many years, then converted to heterosexuality. That's widely believed to be impossible these days, a myth propagated by fundamentalist Christian mouthbreathers, but it was not uncommon among British intellectuals of Keynes' generation.

Steve Sailer writes:

Also, Keynes was one of the taller people in history who was famous for something other than being tall. John Kenneth Galbraith is an even more extreme example. Milton Friedman and Robert Reich are at the shorter end of people famous for something other than their height.

Lori writes:

Sounds like Schumpeter would say. He was quite the obituarist.

Joe Cushing writes:

LOL! He only said that because you are supposed to say nice things about dead people to their grieving spouses. The world is certainly not better off having had Keynes. Keynes is the excuse people need for big government. His idea is so popular among people who thirst for power or people who want to tinker with the economy, it is quoted as fact on radio and TV--usually without challenge. People spread his word as if there is no other idea that conflicts with it. I bet millions of people are in poverty today who otherwise wouldn't be because of legitimization of wrongheadedness that comes from this one man.

Joe Cushing writes:

He was great alright: a great encourager of the squandering of massive wealth.

Thucydides writes:

Hayek thought Keynes was a great man because of his wide intellectual interests, and not because of his work in economics, which Hayek deemed second rate. This is made clear in Sudha Shenoy's anthology of Hayek's writings, "A Tiger by the Tail."

Radford Neal writes:

The world is certainly not better off having had Keynes. Keynes is the excuse people need for big government.

I think a deeper analysis is needed here. If Keynes hadn't existed, what other excuse for big government would have been used, and would it have been worse in its effects? It's not reasonable to think that there would just have been no big government. At best, there might have been a bit less.

Bob Roberts writes:

The world is certainly not better off that he died when he did. I think it's really too bad that Keynes wasn't around for a few more years after World War II. He wasn't an idiot, and knew some of the things he had said would be taken our of context and used to push stupid, harmful economic policies. Had he been around, he could have refuted these policies, or at least better explain his thoughts and ideas.


I am delighted that my account of Hayek's gracious and heartfelt response to Keynes's demise has provoked such a lively correspondence. By the way, the questions raised here -- such as how both men came to serve in WWI in their different ways -- are for the most part answered in my book. Happy reading. Nicholas

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