An Unholy Trinity: The Influence of John Locke, Adam Smith, and John Maynard Keynes on Britain’s Three Great Transformations



Abstract
: This book-length project traces the processes by which three key intellectuals—John Locke, Adam Smith, and JM Keynes—developed, saw adopted, and helped to implement their foreign economic policy strategies in Britain. Each theorist developed a unique response to the timeless challenge of the Mundell-Fleming “unholy trinity,” the inability to simultaneously maintain stable exchange rates, open capital markets, and domestic monetary policy autonomy. Interacting directly with key policymakers, Locke, Smith, and Keynes were each instrumental in initiating three of Britain’s great policy transformations: the adoption of the fixed exchange rate regime in the 1690s, the shift toward free trade in the 1780s, and the abandonment of the gold standard in the 1930s. Once adopted, these ideas became institutionalized as the policy paradigms that reigned for decades. This project revises our understanding of these canonical figures, their involvement in three major shifts in the history of the global economy, and the broader relationship between states and markets.

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