Newhouse professor tests economic doctrines of John Maynard Keynes and their influence on post-World War II U.S. economy in new book
Newhouse professor tests economic doctrines of John Maynard Keynes and their influence on post-World War II U.S. economy in new bookOctober 02, 2007Jaime Winne Alvarezjlwinne@syr.edu
John Philip Jones, professor of advertising in the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, is an economist by education who studied as an undergraduate and graduate student at Cambridge University. By profession, he is an applied economist whose work in market research contributed to his ambition to test the theories of John Maynard Keynes, the most influential economist of the 20th century.
After decades of contemplation and a four year gestation, Jones’ eighth book, “Keynes’s Vision: Why the Great Depression Did Not Return” (Routledge, 2007), is now available. Part of the Routledge Studies in the History of Economics series, the book combines a macroeconomic analysis — written in understandable English — of Keynes’ complicated doctrines and theories with factual examination of how those theories played out in the American economy during the later half of the 20th century.
Jones knows Keynes’ work first hand — the economist died four years before Jones enrolled as an undergraduate at Cambridge. There, he studied under a number of Keynes’ closest friends, collaborators and followers, and others who knew him but were less enthusiastic about his work. “These people gave me insights that have been particularly valuable for this book,” he says.
Jones relied heavily on two primary sources: Keynes’ “The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money” (Macmillan, 1936) and “Statistical Abstract of the United States, 2003: The National Data Book” (U.S. Census Bureau, 2003).
Published since 1878, the “Statistical Abstract of the United States” is the authoritative and comprehensive summary of statistics on the social, political and economic organization of the United States and includes data from the U.S. Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Bureau of Economic Analysis and other federal agencies and private organizations. Jones also worked closely with Jerry Miner, professor emeritus of economics at SU, who provided background on advances in macroeconomics since Keynes’ time.
In “Keynes’s Vision,” Jones tests the validity of Keynesian doctrines and draws firm conclusions focusing on the economist’s revolutionary emphasis on the economy as a whole (macroeconomics); consumer demand and where it leads; investment demand and where it leads; the rate of interest and influence of monetary policy; the role of government in controlling fiscal policy; and the overarching importance of expectations, optimism and pessimism. He concludes with seven major lessons found in the American economy in the 30 years after World War II ended and how each was forecast by Keynes. He finds that U.S. economic policies during that time were derived from Keynesian doctrines and were demonstrably beneficial. After 1973, with the unexpected increase in the price of oil creating an inflation problem not treatable by Keynesian remedy, the economist’s theories lost favor and his reputation was damaged. However, according to Jones, Keynesian theories were in fact still working effectively. During the 1980s and 1990s, Jones says, Keynes’ doctrines actually contributed substantially to the increases in prosperity in the U.S. economy.
The book also offers an introduction to Keynes’ personality, life and legacy. The work will be of interest to students and members of the general public who want to know more about how the economy is controlled and stimulated and will be of considerable interest to students of modern economic history.
“Keynes got it right,” Jones says. “He had a personality that fused together great intellect and great imaginative power, and the result was powerful synergy. It was this synergy that drew him so far ahead of his contemporaries.”
Jones, an expert on the economics of advertising and advertising effects, joined the faculty of the Newhouse School in 1981. Prior to that, he spent 27 years in the advertising industry, including 25 years with J. Walter Thompson in Europe. He is the author of seven books, mainly devoted to advertising effects and deeply rooted in the economics of the business. His works are widely used by marketing and advertising practitioners around the world, and he is considered to have broken much new ground in the quantitative evaluation of advertising effects.
An active consultant in the advertising field, Jones was an adjunct professor at Australia’s Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology and is a visiting professor at the Copenhagen Business School, Denmark. He has received numerous national awards and in 2001 was the recipient of the SU Chancellor’s Citation for Exceptional Academic Achievement.