10 Sep 2012

Keynes, Marx and Hayek: Masters of Money. New BBC/OU series presented by Stephanie Flanders

TX: 17th September BBC Two

At a time when economists and their ideas have never mattered so much a new OU/BBC series ‘Masters of Money’ examines the revolutionary theories of three economic giants John Maynard Keynes, Karl Marx and Friedrich Hayek.

Presented by BBC Economics Editor Stephanie Flanders, the three part series will take an in-depth look at the personalities behind three economic schools of thought, and examine how far their ideas have shaped the society we live in today. With Britain and Europe in the midst of economic crisis the series will pose such searching questions as: how would these great thinkers might respond to today’s situation, and could they now help us fix it?

Alan Shipman, Lecturer in Economics at The Open University and Academic Advisor for the series said: “What money is and does, and how resources gain new power when changed into capital, are issues that economists have often sidestepped – until financial crisis suddenly challenges conventional theory. By Keynes, Marx and Hayek re-thinking the way economies work, it gave people a new understanding of the world and new ideas on how to improve it. This series shows how their approaches shed light on the on-going problems in today’s world economy.”

Each episode focuses on one of the great thinkers, and the series begins by looking at the ideas of John Maynard Keynes. Keynes believed that the economy would not automatically reach full employment and that the government should intervene to manage the level of demand. His ideas have inspired numerous leaders, including Barack Obama with his stimulus program and the British Government with their funding-for-lending programme.

The second episode explores the ideas of Friedrich Hayek – a believer in free markets who claimed they would deliver prosperity without policy intervention, and argued that it was dangerous to treat economics as a science.

The final episode examine the most radical theorist of them all – Karl Marx, who argued that capitalism was doomed, even if governments tried to control its excesses. In light of today’s crisis, presenter Stephanie Flanders askes the question – could Marx have been right?

With economic policy at centre stage, the series will spark the debate about the big ideas that unite and divide society. As Keynes himself said, “The ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than is commonly understood. Indeed the world is ruled by little else.

Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influence, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist.”

To support the series The Open University has created six one-minute animations which help explain some of the key economic ideas that impact on all our lives: http://www.open.edu/openlearn/mastersofmoney
Notes to Editors:

The Open University (OU) is the largest academic institution in the UK and a world leader in flexible distance learning. Since it began in 1969, the OU has taught more than 1.7 million students and has more than 264,000 current students, including 18,000 overseas.
The OU has been one of the top three UK universities for student satisfaction in the National Student Survey every year since the survey began in 2005. In 2010/11 it had a 93 per cent satisfaction rating. Over 70% of students are in full-time or part-time employment, and four out of five FTSE 100 companies have sponsored staff to take OU courses.
In the UK’s latest Research Assessment Exercise (RAE 2008) the Open University was ranked in the top third of UK higher education institutions. More than 50% of OU research was assessed in the RAE as internationally excellent, with 14% as world leading.
Regarded as Britain’s major e-learning institution, the OU is a world leader in developing technology to increase access to education on a global scale. Its vast ‘open content portfolio’ includes free study units on OpenLearn, which has had more than 21 million visits, and materials on iTunes U, which has recorded over 50 million downloads. The OU has a 41 year partnership with the BBC which has moved from late-night lectures in the 1970s to prime-time programmes such as Frozen Planet, Bang Goes the Theory, The Secret History of Our Streets and The Market.

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