“In the long run we are all dead.” Frequently, this handy phrase is used in economic debates when a government needs to justify this or that measure, or when the opposition wants to discredit governmental effort. However, it is rather rare that anybody bothers to understand what John Maynard Keynes was really talking about when he wrote down these words in 1923.
For the outstanding British economist the phrase was, of course, only a tiny part of a much bigger argument which suggested that in times of economic hardship it is rather unwise to do nothing, just hoping that in the long run the economy will be alright. Since then, this argument has been much discussed, proven and rebutted – both by scholars and the reality. As recently as 2017, Geoff Mann published a highly recommendable book on this topic.
No matter what your personal opinion about Keynes and his political economy is, he has got a very important point. This point is basically about what is to be done when things go wrong. Of course, Keynes was a Cambridge scholar, and as such rather interested in the overall economic system than in corporate affairs. And yet, his take on how different factors interplay and shape economic reality can be a extremely useful for making important business decisions.
In the long run we might be all dead, but until then there is plenty to learn for success of our enterprises. So, let’s do it!