"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...

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