John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946)

“The ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than is commonly understood. Indeed the world is ruled by little else. Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influence, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist.”

“It is better to be roughly right than precisely wrong.”

“In the long run, we’re all dead.”

“Capitalism is the astounding belief that the most wickedest of men will do the most wickedest of things for the greatest good of everyone.”

“Ideas shape the course of history.”

“The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as in escaping from old ones.”

“Successful investing is anticipating the anticipations of others.”

“Education is the inculcation of the incomprehensible into the indifferent by the incompetent.”

“The day is not far off when the economic problem will take the back seat where it belongs, and the arena of the heart and the head will be occupied or reoccupied, by our real problems, the problems of life and of human relations, of creation and behavior and religion.”

“By a continuing process of inflation, government can confiscate, secretly and unobserved, an important part of the wealth of their citizens.”

“The best way to destroy the capitalist system is to debauch the currency. By a continuing process of inflation, governments can confiscate, secretly and unobserved, an important part of the wealth of their citizens.”

“The biggest problem is not to let people accept new ideas, but to let them forget the old ones.”

“There is nothing so disastrous as a rational investment policy in an irrational world.”

“The avoidance of taxes is the only intellectual pursuit that still carries any reward.”

“I do not know which makes a man more conservative to know nothing but the present, or nothing but the past.”

“In truth, the gold standard is already a barbarous relic.”

“The power of vested interests is vastly exaggerated compared with the gradual encroachment of ideas.”

“But this long run is a misleading guide to current affairs. In the long run we are all dead.”

“If economists could manage to get themselves thought of as humble, competent people on a level with dentists, that would be splendid.”

“The difficulty lies, not in the new ideas, but in escaping the old ones, which ramify, for those brought up as most of us have been, into every corner of our minds.”

“The social object of skilled investment should be to defeat the dark forces of time and ignorance which envelope our future.”

“A study of the history of opinion is a necessary preliminary to the emancipation of the mind.”

“It is better that a man should tyrannize over his bank balance than over his fellow citizens.”

“Regarded as a means, (the businessman) is tolerable; as an end, he is not so satisfactory.”

“Most men love money and security more, and creation and construction less, as they get older.”

“For at least another hundred years we must pre­tend to ourselves and to every one that fair is foul and foul is fair; for foul is useful and fair is not. Avarice and usury and precaution must be our gods for a little longer still.”

“The engine which drives enterprise is not thrift, but profit.”

“There is no harm in being sometimes wrong – especially if one is promptly found out.”

“The importance of money flows from it being a link between the present and the future.”

“Words ought to be a little wild, for they are the assaults of thoughts on the unthinking.”

“It would not be foolish to contemplate the possibility of a far greater progress still.”

“Nothing mattered except states of mind, chiefly our own.”

“Americans are apt to be unduly interested in discovering what average opinion believes average opinion to be…”

“Worldly wisdom teaches that it is better for the reputation to fail conventionally than to succeed unconventionally.”

“Leninism is a combination of two things which Europeans have kept for some centuries in different compartments of their soul religion and business.”

“It is ideas, not vested interests, which are dangerous for good or evil.”

“I work for a Government, I despise for ends, I think criminal.”

“The decadent international but individualistic capitalism in the hands of which we found ourselves after the war is not a success. It is not intelligent. It is not beautiful. It is not just. It is not virtuous. And it doesn’t deliver the goods.”

“There is no subtler, no surer means of overturning the existing basis of society than to debauch the currency – The process engages all the hidden forces of economic law on the side of destruction, and does it in a manner which not one man in a million can diagnose.”

“When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?”

“If I owe you a pound, I have a problem; but if I owe you a million, the problem is yours.”


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