Masters of Money

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Television -

Wed­nes­day, 9.30pm, SBS One From the BBC comes a short se­ries about masters of money Karl Marx, Friedrich Hayek and John May­nard Keynes. The great thing about th­ese three is that their views are com­pletely po­larised. Sounds pretty much like con­tem­po­rary econ­o­mists to me. They can’t all be right, can they? Things be­gin tonight with Keynes. Ac­cord­ing to this pro­gram, the prob­lems Keynes was grap­pling with in the 1930s — bank fail­ures, in­ter­na­tional crises and the pos­si­bil­ity of a long eco­nomic slump — are the same dif­fi­cul­ties we are grap­pling with now. Well, not so much us as Bri­tain, Europe and Amer­ica. The se­ries asks if the ideas of such rad­i­cal thinkers could help th­ese coun­tries un­der­stand the mess they are in and then get out of it. But first we are off to visit the enor­mous Pirelli fac­tory in Carlisle, Eng­land. Al­most 10,000 tyres a day are pro­duced by ap­prox­i­mately 750 work­ers. When con­cerns were raised that the com­pany might move its op­er­a­tions overseas to cut costs, the Bri­tish government kicked in £2 mil­lion to keep Pirelli in Eng­land. So why would a government al­ready drown­ing in debt cough up like this to save a pri­vate com­pany? It all comes back to Keynes, ap­par­ently. He said there would be times when gov­ern­ments would have to step in to make cap­i­tal­ism work, even when that meant spend­ing money they didn’t have. Did Keynes save cap­i­tal­ism from cap­i­tal­ists? Is this why so much stim­u­lus was ap­plied to our econ­omy dur­ing the global fi­nan­cial cri­sis? Fas­ci­nat­ing.

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