"Here I am back again in the Treasury … but with one great difference. In 1918 most people’s only idea was to get back to pre-1914. No one today feels like that about 1939. That will make an enormous difference when we get down to it." John Maynard Keynes wrote this in 1942. It did make a difference. After the Great Depression and a second world war, people wanted change. They got it. France calls what followed "les trentes glorieuses". The stagflation of the 1970s brought a counterrevolution: the 1980s saw a radical change of ideas on the role of the state and markets, the goals of macroeconomic policy and the job of central banks. Again, the aim was a fundamental transformation. So what happened after the global financial crisis? Have politicians and policymakers tried to get us back to the past or go into a different future? The answer is clear: it is the former. To be fair, they have tried to go back to a better past. That is what happened in 1918. Then they had just come out of...

BL Premium

This article is reserved for our subscribers.

A subscription helps you enjoy the best of our business content every day along with benefits such as exclusive Financial Times articles, ProfileData financial data, and digital access to the Sunday Times and Times Select.

Already subscribed? Simply sign in below.

Questions or problems? Email helpdesk@businesslive.co.za or call 0860 52 52 00. Got a subscription voucher? Redeem it now