Glossary


H&P has prepared a glossary to explain historical terms that are not in common use today. This is designed for readers of H&P's policy papers, opinion articles and Number 10 guest historian features, as well as students, journalists and policy makers.

All entries have been prepared by the editors of H&P's Number 10 guest historian series: Whitfield prize-winner Dr Ben Griffin and Dr Andrew Thompson of Cambridge University and Dr Andrew Blick, of King's College London.

K

Keynesiansim

A doctrine of government economic management that was highly influential during the post-Second World War period, in Britain and beyond. Keynesiansim involved official intervention to maintain employment levels, using a variety of levers from increased public expenditure, reduced taxation, and lower interest rates, to stimulate growth, when required. A public deficit –when government expenditure exceeded income - was regarded as acceptable economic downturns, though the corollary, in theory, was that a surplus was desirable following a recovery.

Keynesianism took its name from the celebrated Cambridge economist John Maynard Keynes who promoted his alternative economic theories through the inter-war period, and became an unpaid but highly influential Treasury adviser during the Second World War.  However, his theories were developed and adapted by his protégés such as Joan Robinson, Richard Kahn and Piero Straffa, and it is unclear how Keynes, who died in 1946, would have responded to the economic circumstances of the post-war decades. By the mid-1970s Keynesianism came under sustained criticism for both failing to deliver growth and causing inflation. The approach began to fall out of favour among policy makers, who turned towards monetarism.

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