Thomas I. Palley, Esteban Pérez Caldentey and Matías Vernengo
Professor Robert Rowthorn delivered the second annual Godley–Tobin lecture in New York City on 1 March 2019. The title of his lecture was ‘Keynesian economics – back from the dead?’ and it is published in this issue of the Review of Keynesian Economics. The lecture was attended by a large audience and the Question & Answer session provoked a stimulating discussion. Prompted by that discussion, we thought it would be interesting to invite some leading economists to independently address Professor Rowthorn's lecture topic. This symposium is the outcome of that invitation.
We are living in a time which many believe has a distinctly Keynesian character. That is captured in the belief that many economies appear to suffer from aggregate demand shortage or, at least, a proclivity to demand shortage. It is also captured in the revival of the concept of ‘economic stagnation,’ which was an idea that had much traction in the 1930s and 1940s but then fell away in the 1950s with the post-war boom and the non-reappearance of depression-like conditions.
Another Keynesian feature of the times is the character of macroeconomic policy, particularly fiscal policy. Following the financial crisis of 2008 and the Great Recession it spawned, there was a global turn to sizeable coordinated fiscal stimulus. Though that turn was truncated (Keynesians would say mistakenly), its legacy remains in place in the sense that discretionary counter-cyclical fiscal policy is back. That is evident in the renewed widespread belief among economists and policymakers regarding the value of fiscal stimulus to combat recessions, though the details of when, how, and how much are still contested. That contrasts with the situation before the Great Recession when the mainstream consensus was that discretionary counter-cyclical fiscal policy was largely ineffective.
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From the last issue of ROKE with free papers by Rowthorn and Eichengreen.