The Pseudo Keynesians (Joan Robinson, Austin Robinson, Richard Kahn) Against J. M. Keynes on the Liquidity Preference Theory of the Rate of Interest: The Reliance of Joan Robinson on A. Robinson and R. Kahn
31 Pages Posted: 3 Jul 2018 Last revised: 8 Aug 2018
Date Written: June 24, 2018
Early in September 1936, Keynes discovered that Joan Robinson was completely illiterate about very basic mathematical concepts and basic economic theory. Robinson had sent Keynes materials that would later form her Essays in the Theory of Employment (1937). Joan Robinson had, however, made a serious tactical and strategic mistake. She had not submitted her work to either A. Robinson or R. Kahn before sending it on to Keynes to review. This is a mistake that she would repeat only at one other time in her lifetime, in 1953, in a short book, called On Re-reading Marx, which showed that she did not know how to do academic research for publication. The quality of the book is so poor that it proves beyond any doubt that her capability to publish academic research depended completely on the constant help, supervision, and aid of Richard Kahn and Austin Robinson. The materials she sent to Keynes had not been carefully scrutinized and checked for errors by either/or her husband, Austin Robinson, who was co-editor with Keynes of the most prestigious journal in the world, The Economic Journal, or Richard Kahn, a close associate of Keynes, who had already become her constant lover and companion in 1930 with the consent of Austin Robinson, her husband. Keynes, over a period of three months’ correspondence during which J. Robinson refused to make corrections to her work, realized that Joan Robinson’s errors were egregious. She demonstrated to Keynes that she had absolutely no idea about what she had supposedly been reading in the General Theory concerning Keynes’s Liquidity Preference theory of the rate of interest and Keynes’s ISLP(LM) model. It is extremely probable that Keynes now realized that it was impossible for Joan Robinson to have written the book, The Economics of Imperfect Competition (1933) and that Austin Robinson and Richard Kahn were the real authors of this book. Keynes also now realized that all of his comments and evaluations of her work, that he was sending to Joan Robinson, were also being read and analyzed by Austin Robinson and Richard Kahn. Keynes decided to send the following message to the Pseudo Keynesians (Joan Robinson, Austin Robinson, Richard Kahn) on November 9th, 1936: “Dear Joan, I beg you not to publish. For your argument, as it now stands is most certainly nonsense.” T. W. Hutchison in 1977 was the first economist after Keynes to realize that what was being said by Joan Robinson, Austin Robinson, and Richard Kahn about Keynes’s 1937 published newspaper letters in England about unemployment and rearmament had severe inconsistencies in them that directly conflicted with what Keynes had actually written. Unfortunately, Hutchison barely scratched the surface. Hutchison failed to grasp that Joan Robinson dominated the intellectual, social and private lives of both Austin Robinson and Richard Kahn to such an extent that they basically were sounding boards for her cynical, opportunistic, careerist, academic goals. The result has been that the economics profession has been completely misled by all assessments of the General Theory published by the Pseudo Keynesians since Keynes’s letter of November 9th, 1936, cited above. Starting from this date, the Pseudo Keynesians realized that Keynes had caught on to the nature of the relationships between the Pseudo Keynesians. Unfortunately, no other economist(s) seem to have realized that the claim made by Robinson, emphasized by Gram and Walsh that “It must never be forgotten that, as a member of the little group (known as the Circus) who worked with Keynes on manuscripts of The General Theory at Cambridge, she is in an excellent position to know what his ideas really were.” (Gram and Walsh, 1983, p. 522, ft. 6; boldface added), is false. J. Robinson states that “You might almost say that I am the archetypal left-wing Keynesian. I was drawing pinkish rather than bluish conclusions from the General Theory long before it was published. (I was in the privileged position of being one of a group of friends who worked with Keynes while it was being written.”) (Gram and Walsh, p. 548; boldface added). Of course, Joan Robinson never “…worked with Keynes while it was being written.” This fact will require that all macroeconomic history needs to be completely rewritten.
Keywords: IS-LM, IS-LP(LM), J. Robinson, R. Kahn, Keynes, Mathematical Illiteracy, A. Robinson, Y=C I, D-Z Model
JEL Classification: B10, B12, B14, B16, B20, B22
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation