First published in 1936, John Maynard Keynes’s General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money didn’t become influential until after World War II, when a simplified and attenuated version entered the profession. Keynes’s complex, difficult, and often obscure analysis eventually took hold because it gave many economists just what they were looking for: a theoretical rationale for major government intervention to remedy what they regarded as the unreliability of market systems to avoid or recover quickly from recessions.

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