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Full Employment, Open Economy Macroeconomics, and Keynes’ General Theory: Does the Swan Diagram Suffice?

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This paper provides critical comments on the Peter Temin - David Vines promotion of the basic Swan Diagram as (1) a policy tool to encourage any individual debtor nation experiencing balance of payment deficits to reduce its exchange rate in order to expand exports and reduce imports and (2) the Swan Diagram as a simple model for understanding Keynes’s General Theory for an Open Economy.

This paper explains that the Swan Diagram is completely incompatible with Keynes’s analysis. Instead Keynes advocated that the onus should be placed on creditor nations to correct international payments imbalances and thereby promote economic expansion internationally. Keynes warned against any deficit nation adopting a policy that tries to achieve a balance in its international payments by following any policy designed to reduce imports and increase exports. Such a policy sends a contractionary force onto the international economy and tends to injure all trading partners.

See the response by Peter Temin & David Vines