Who Was John Maynard Keynes?

John Maynard Keynes (1883–1946) was a British economist who founded Keynesian economics and is widely regarded as the father of contemporary macroeconomics, the study of how economic markets and other large-scale systems behave.

One of Keynesian economics’ tenets is that governments should actively endeavor to influence the trajectory of economies, particularly by raising expenditure to stimulate demand in times of recession.

Education and Early Career

John Maynard Keynes’ early interest in economics was sparked by his father, John Neville Keynes, a Cambridge University Economics lecturer. His mother was a benevolent worker for the impoverished and was one of Cambridge’s first female graduates.

He was born into a middle-class family and obtained scholarships to two of England’s most prestigious institutions, Eton College and Cambridge University, where he gained a bachelor’s degree in mathematics in 1904. He excelled in mathematics throughout his academic career, despite having essentially little formal economics training.

As a Fellow of King’s College at Cambridge University, Keynes worked on probability theory and lectured in economics early in his career.

Official employment in the British Civil Service and the British Treasury, as well as appointments to royal committees on currency and finance, including his 1919 appointment as the Treasury’s financial representative at the Versailles peace conference that concluded World War I.