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The principle of functional finance is in sharp contrast with the traditional principle of ‘sound finance’, which requires that the budget always be balanced, either annually or over the course of the trade cycle. Only in exceptional circumstances, Lerner argued, would the precepts of functional finance and sound finance coincide. When they were in conflict, functional finance should prevail. In this spirit Kaldor took his readers through the details of the White Paper on National Income and Expenditure, explaining with great care the way in which it was proposed to finance the British war effort.
By 1945 Kaldor was no longer merely a theorist. He had emerged as an applied economist of great talent and energy, and had acquired a taste for providing policy advice that he would retain for the rest of his life. 2 How to pay for the war In November 1939 Keynes wrote a series of articles for the London Evening Standard d that was subsequently published as a best-selling booklet. In How To Pay For The Warr Keynes demonstrated that his new macroeconomic theory was far from being restricted to the ‘economics of depression’, as even sympathetic critics like J.
For it has been repeatedly (and in my view conclusively) shown that a few simple additions to Keynes’s own model of a general equilibrium of production in the economy will produce the result that this ‘equilibrium’ will take the form, not of a simple steady rate of production in time, but of a rhythmical movement of constant amplitude and period – in other words, a perpetual oscillation around a stationary equilibrium position. (Kaldor 1954, p. 54) Keynes-inspired theories of growth, on the other hand, were not able to incorporate cyclical fluctuations with any degree of success.