Skip to main content

Bradley W. Bateman Publications

Publish Date
Challenge, The Magazine of Economic Affairs

In October 1929, the Dutch electronics firm Philips approached John Maynatd Keynes to write confidential reports on the state of the British and world economies, which he did from January 1930 to November 1934, at first monthly and then quarterly. These substantial reports (Keynes’s November 1931 report was twelve typed pages) show Keynes narrating the Great Depression in real time, as the world went through the US slowdown after the Wall Street crash, the Credit-Anstalt collapse in Austria, the German banking crisis (summer 1931), Britain’s departure from the gold exchange standard in August and September 1931, the US banking crisis leading to the Bank Holiday of March 1933, the London Economic Conference of 1933, and the coming of the New Deal. This series of reports has not been discussed in the literature, though the reports and surrounding correspondence are in the Chadwyck-Healey microfilm edition of the Keynes Papers. We examine Keynes’s account of the unfolding events of the early 1930s, his insistence that the crisis would be more severe and long-lasting than most observers predicted, and his changing position on whether monetary policy would be sufficient to promote recovery and relate his reading of contemporary events to his theoretical development.