The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, often cited as The General Theory, is a pioneering book by English economist John Maynard Keynes published in February 1936.

It caused a profound shift in economic thought, giving macroeconomics a central place in economic theory and contributing much of its terminology.

It had equally powerful consequences in economic policy, being interpreted as providing theoretical support for government spending in general, and for budgetary deficits, monetary intervention and counter-cyclical policies in particular. It is pervaded with an air of mistrust for the rationality of free-market decision making.

Keynes denied that an economy would automatically adapt to provide full employment even in equilibrium, and believed that the volatile and ungovernable psychology of markets would lead to periodic booms and crises.

The General Theory is a sustained attack on the classical economics orthodoxy of its time. It introduced the concepts of the consumption function, the principle of effective demand and liquidity preference, and gave new prominence to the multiplier and the marginal efficiency of capital.

Many of the innovations introduced by The General Theory continue to be central to modern macroeconomics. For instance, the idea that recessions reflect inadequate aggregate demand and that Say’s Law (in Keynes’s formulation, that “supply creates its own demand”) does not hold in a monetary economy.

The majority new consensus view, found in most current text-books and taught in all universities, is New Keynesian economics, which accepts the neoclassical concept of long-run equilibrium but allows a role for aggregate demand in the short run. New Keynesian economists pride themselves on providing microeconomic foundations for the sticky prices and wages assumed by Old Keynesian economics. The minority view is represented by Post-Keynesian economists, all of whom accept Keynes’s fundamental critique of the neoclassical concept of long-run equilibrium, and some of whom think The General Theory has yet to be properly understood.

Link to the General Theory at Amazon

Link to page on John Maynard Keynes

Link to an article on Keynesian Economics in the EconLib Concise Encyclopedia of Economics