Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

John Maynard Keynes

British Economist

"Lenin is said to have declared that the best way to destroy the Capitalist System was 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."

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

"[The Depression] is not a crisis of poverty, but a crisis of abundance. It is not the harshness and the niggardliness of nature which are oppressing us, but our own incompetence and wrong-headedness which hinder us from making use of the bountifulness of inventive science and cause us to be overwhelmed by its generous fruits."

"Markets can remain irrational longer than you can remain solvent."

"The engine which drives Enterprise is not Thrift, but Profit."

"Education: the inculcation of the incomprehensible into the indifferent by the incompetent."

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

"When circumstances change, I change my view; what do you do?"

"The political problem of mankind is to combine three things: Economic Efficiency, Social Justice, and Individual Liberty."

"Words ought to be a little wild for they are the assaults of thought on the unthinking."

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

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

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

"I work for a Government I despise for ends I think criminal. "

"Ideas shape the course of history. "

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

"The long run is a misleading guide to current affairs. In the long run we are all dead."

"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. "

"When the accumulation of wealth is no longer of high social importance, there will be great changes in the code of morals. We shall be able to rid ourselves of many of the pseudo-moral principles which have hag-ridden us for two hundred years, by which we have exalted some of the most distasteful of human qualities into the position of the highest virtues. We shall be able to afford to dare to assess the money-motive at its true value. The love of money as a possession — as distinguished from the love of money as a means to the enjoyments and realities of life — will be recognised for what it is, a somewhat disgusting morbidity, one of those semi-criminal, semi-pathological propensities which one hands over with a shudder to the specialists in mental disease ... But beware! The time for all this is not yet. For at least another hundred years we must pretend to ourselves and to everyone 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. For only they can lead us out of the tunnel of economic necessity into daylight."

"Successful investing is anticipating the anticipations of others. "

"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 is able to diagnose."

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

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

"It is better to be roughly right than precisely wrong."

"The disruptive powers of excessive national fecundity may have played a greater part in bursting the bonds of convention than either the power of ideas or the errors of autocracy. "

"If you owe your bank a hundred pounds, you have a problem. But if you owe a million, it has."

"With the breakdown of money economy the practice of international barter is becoming prevalent."

"The political problem of mankind is to combine three things: economic efficiency, social justice and individual liberty."