The Ideas of John Maynard Keynes (pt 5)

Keynes on the ‘trade cycle’

Keynes throughout the “General Theory” was concerned with explaining how his marginalist concept of “equilibrium”—marginal efficiency of capital = rate of interest—could correspond to mass unemployment. The industrial cycle itself was of secondary concern for Keynes. But in chapter 22, entitled “Notes on the Trade Cycle,” he does deal with the industrial cycle, or as he called it in the English manner, the “trade cycle” or “industrial trade cycle.”

When he did deal with the industrial cycle, marginalism hindered Keynes at every step. Unlike the classical economists and Marx, the marginalists do not distinguish between use value and exchange value. As a marginalist, even if an unorthodox one, Keynes therefore had problems in explaining how commodities could be overproduced yet be “scarce” at the same time.

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