Why is Robert Skidelsky speaking at Mont Pelerin??

I’m off to the regional meeting of the Mont Pelerin Society in Palo Alto which is the meeting of the remnants of the last few remaining supporters of market economies not only as the means to prosperity, but also as a necessary element in the preservation of political freedom.

So imagine my astonishment to see this as one of the sessions being on offer:

1:15 pm – 2:30 pm Lessons Learned from History for the Future of Freedom
Gabriel Calzada, Universidad Francisco Marroquín (Chair)
Victor Davis Hanson, Hoover Institution
Amity Shlaes, Calvin Coolidge Presidential Foundation
Robert Skidelsky, Warwick University

This is from Robert Skidelsky’s Wikipedia page:

In September 2015, Skidelsky endorsed Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign in the Labour Party leadership election, writing in The Guardian: “Corbyn should be praised, not castigated, for bringing to public attention these serious issues concerning the role of the state and the best ways to finance its activities. The fact that he is dismissed for doing so illustrates the dangerous complacency of today’s political elites. Millions in Europe rightly feel that the current economic order fails to serve their interests. What will they do if their protests are simply ignored?”

As a minor matter next to this, but not minor to me, is that he is the most prominent defender of Keynesian economics, along with Paul Krugman, anywhere in the world. There is also a fact virtually unmentioned on his own Wikipedia page but mentioned here in relation to a disgraceful book he published at the start of the GFC: Keynes: The Return of the Master.

Keynes: The Return of the Master is a 2009 book by economic historian Robert Skidelsky. The work discusses the economic theories and philosophy of John Maynard Keynes, and argues about their relevance to the world following the Financial crisis of 2007–2010.

I’m not surprised he is reluctant to have the book mentioned. Want more? From the same source:

Chapter 8 sums up Keynes’s relevance to the current age as of 2009. The author suggests that Keynes would likely advise us to rethink macroeconomic policy, with a greater emphasis on balanced growth and with a somewhat large role for government in ensuring there is a smooth flow of investment to help protect the economy from unpredictable shocks. Macroeconomics should be reformed so that it again recognises the role of uncertainty and so it draws on other areas of knowledge such as history and International political economy, with a less central role for maths. The global savings glut needs to be addressed. Ethics should once again have a role in guiding capitalism, as should Keynes’s vision of harmony, where differences are cherished rather than pressured to conform, as can be the case with current concepts of “social cohesion” and “consensus”.

Why is such an out and out socialist being allowed to speak at Mont Pelerin? And on that minor matter of Keynes, this is the most recent cover description for my next book which I have just sent to the publisher.

Classical Economic Theory and the Modern Economy’

Steven Kates

Economic theory reached its highest level of analytical power and depth in the middle of the nineteenth century among John Stuart Mill and his contemporaries. This book explains classical economics when it was at its height, followed by an analysis of what took place as  a result of the ensuing Marginal and Keynesian Revolutions that have left economists less able to understand how economies operate.

Chapters explore the false mythology that has obscured the arguments of classical economists, clouding to the point of near invisibility the theories they had developed. Kates offers a thorough understanding of the operation of an economy within a classical framework, providing a new perspective for viewing modern economic theory from the outside. This provocative book not only explains the meaning of Say’s Law in an accessible way, but also the origins of the Keynesian revolution and Keynes’s pathway in writing The General Theory. It provides a new look at the classical theory of value at its height that was not based, as so many now wrongly believe, on the labour theory of value.

A crucial read for economic policy-makers seeking to understand the operation of a market economy, this book should also be of keen interest to economists generally as well as scholars in the history of economic thought.