‘Commanding Heights’ home page

For economics research, to find example of economics principles and to understand economic history, there are few better sites than the home page of the PBS series based on Daniel Yergin‘s history of economics in the 20th century, “Commanding Heights.”  Go see.

Image for Commanding Heights video series

You may view segments, or the entire series.

You can read up on the people, or the countries.  You can follow specific ideas.

There is a good glossary of economic terms There are essays on key concepts, in addition to the material in the book and the series.

One might wish all websites were so thorough.


John Maynard Keynes cursorily addresses the issue of a return to the gold standard

Portrait of John Maynard Keynes as a younger man

Portrait of John Maynard Keynes as a younger man (who is the artist? where does it hang?)

  • In truth, the gold standard is already a barbarous relic.
    • John Maynard Keynes, Monetary Reform (1924), p. 172

    What do you think?

    Gold Key, weighing one kilogram is used to acc...

More, resources:

More Keynes and Hayek rap — “Fight of the Century, Round II”

Your assignment, students:  Tell which of these guys you think is right, and why.  A couple of paragraphs at least, please.  Is the Hayek character right?  Is “circular flow” really dead?

If you’re not the first to post, you should respond to posts before yours.

Comments are open — Rounds 3 through 10, let’s hear you make ’em.

NPR’s series on dead economists: John Maynard Keynes

NPR’s Morning Edition ran a three part series on the some of the people most influential in modern economics, over the past several days.  Well, three people — Ayn Rand, Friedrich von Hayek, and John Maynard Keynes.

The series is a good one, and each piece is pretty good at explaining what the economists and Rand were about and why you should know them and their work.

There’s not much that survives of Keynes’ own spoken words, but he can be heard in an old British newsreel, in which he delivered a stern admonition.

“We must free ourselves from the bondage of old ideas,” he said.

One of the “old ideas” Keynes sought most to debunk was the notion that economies in trouble would naturally fix themselves, thanks to the magic of the marketplace. Princeton economist Alan Blinder says Keynes put his finger on a key economic problem — namely, that insufficient demand leads to growing unemployment.

“It’s very simple, that if there aren’t enough buyers, the sellers won’t produce,” Blinder says. “And if they don’t produce, they don’t hire workers. And if they don’t hire workers, the workers don’t have income — and if the workers don’t have income, they can’t buy stuff.”

Keynes was, after all, an economist of crises. The economic stimulus he prescribed for an ailing economy, he made clear, was merely a short-term remedy. In the long term, he wrote, we’re all dead.

In Keynes’ seminal 1936 book, The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, he argued that markets do indeed fail, and that if individuals or private enterprise cannot or will not spend in the short term, then the government must, to boost employment.

Here’s the Keynes v. Hayek rap mentioned in the story:

You can earn extra credit reading chapters of Keynes’s book, The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, or otherwise studying this material.  You can earn extra credit in studying the modern applications of Keynes’s theories — just check with me, first.