In This Review

Money and Government: The Past and Future of Economics
Money and Government: The Past and Future of Economics
By Robert Skidelsky
Yale University Press, 2018, 512 pp

This masterly exposition of the history of economic thought—and the context in which it developed—goes back to the seventeenth century but concentrates on the last hundred years. It sketches the historical background to the emergence of classical economics, monetarism, Keynesianism, and neoclassical economics. Skidelsky wrote a biography of John Maynard Keynes, so it’s not surprising that his interpretations of Keynes’ thought are especially subtle. As Skidelsky writes, Keynes emphasized unknowable uncertainty about the future, a contrast to the deterministic way that his theory, which served as the origin of modern macroeconomics, is usually presented in textbooks and taught to students. Skidelsky also offers an illuminating treatment of the 2008 financial crisis, the ways in which economists were blindsided by it, the monetary and fiscal policies that governments adopted in response, and the fragile and sometimes faltering recovery.