Robert Skidelsky

Economist and Historian
Politician, Member of the British House of Lords
Acclaimed Author

One of Britain’s most knowledgeable and eloquent experts on the world’s political and economic systems — their merits and faults.

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Biography

Robert Skidelsky’s illuminating insights into politics, economics, and history have been educating audiences and readers for decades. His focus is economic systems, the crises they cause, and their effect on culture, values, and everyday life.

Robert is the author of several highly acclaimed books, and his highly-anticipated newest is written jointly with his son, Edward Skidelsky:

How Much is Enough? The Economics and Philosophy of the Good Life

In this intriguing new book, he confronts an issue prompted by the economic downturn and on everyone’s mind these days:

What is the real value or worth of wealth?

Greed, the quest for hyper growth, big profits, and obscene paydays (for some) have pushed us in the wrong direction, distorting our values, and destroying many of the things that make life worth living.

Robert argues that wealth should not be regarded as an end in itself but a means to the achievement and maintenance of a good and satisfying life. Our lives, our work, and our economy should be organized to reflect this fact.

Robert also recently published a collection of his writings and speeches, The Economic Crisis 2008-2011, on the Great Contraction, the biggest global economic collapse since the Great Depresson.

Other important books by Robert Skidelsky include a prize-winning three volume biography of the economist John Maynard Keynes, which Foreign Affairs called "The definitive study of the most important economist of his time."

Another more recent book addresses the financial crash of 2008 and the economic crisis that ensued:

Keynes: The Return of the Master*

"[O]ffers nervous capitalists a positive answer to the question we now face: When unbridled capitalism falters, is there an alternative?"
— Amazon.com book description

"The book offers clear and cogent critiques of modern macroeconomic thought, along with a brief but useful summary of what went wrong in 2007-2009."
Foreign Affairs

Active in politics, Robert is a founding member of the Social Democratic Party and and remained in the party till its dissolution in 1992. In 1991, he became chairman of the Social Market Foundation, and the same year was made a life peer. He subsequently joined the Conservatives. He was made Chief Opposition Spokesman in the Lords, first for Culture, then for Treasury Affairs (1997-9), but he was sacked by the then Conservative party leader, William Hague, for publicly opposing NATO's bombing of Kosovo. In 2001, he left the Conservative Party for the cross benches. He has been actively engaged in the fiscal debate following the downturn of 2008.

He writes a monthly column for Project Syndicate, "Against the Current", which is syndicated in newspapers all over the world. He is a frequent contributor to the Financial Times, The New York Review of Books, The Guardian, The Sunday Telegraph, Moscow Times, and many other periodicals around the world.

Praise
His speeches and presentations at conferences are high anticipated and appreciated. His recent ones have drawn praise such as the following:

House of Lords debate on the Comprehensive Spending Review:
'Just received and read your brilliant speech for today’s debate.'
— Rt Hon Gordon Brown, 2010

State Street Conference on Global Markets:
'Thank you for presenting at our event last week. The feedback from attendees has been outstanding'
— Jeremy Armitage, Head of Strategy Research, State Street Global Markets, 2010

Irish Trade Union Congress:
'Such an erudite and common sense speaker. A lot of people afterwards said that on the night he explained very difficult concepts in a very clear fashion.'
— Macdara Doyle, Communications Office, Irish Congress of Trade Unions, 2010

Drobny Global Advisers:
'It was great meeting you on Thursday at the Mandarin. Our clients thoroughly enjoyed your talk so it was a great success.'
— Steve Drobny, 2010.

Thomson Reuters Interview:
'I thought you might like to know how well received your interview has been on Reuters Insider. On the day it went live, your interview ranked in the top 20 programmes. The following day, subscribers watching the vireo 'on-demand' took it up well inside the top 10 where it stayed for three successive days. It’s a rarity for something to rank so highly so consistently.'
— Nick Edwards, Economics Editor, Reuters TV.

Robert Skidelsky was made a life peer in 1991 by Queen Elizabeth and is now known as Lord Skidelsky.

Credentials

  • Professor and Emeritus Professor of Political Economy, University of Warwick, 1990 -
  • Fellow of the British Academy in both Economics and History Sections, 1994 -
  • Council of the Royal Economic Society, 2008 -
  • Chairman of the Governors of Brighton College, 2006 -
  • Andrew D. White Professor-at-Large at Cornell University, 2010 -
  • non-executive director, Rusnano Capital, 2010 -
  • non-executive director of Janus Capital, 2001-2011
  • non-executive director of Sistema JSC,2008-2010
  • Chairman of fund board of Wermuth Asset Management, 2005-2009
  • Director, Moscow School of Political Studies, 2003 -
  • Chairman, Centre for Global Studies, 2005 -
  • Member, Advisory Board of the Institute of New Economic Thinking, 2010 -

Books

The Essential Keynes

Robert Skidelsky, Editor

The essential writings of the 20th century’s most influential economist, collected in one volume

Today, John Maynard Keynes is best remembered for his pioneering development of macroeconomics, and for his advocacy of active fiscal and monetary government policy. This uniquely comprehensive selection of his work, edited by Keynes’s award-winning biographer Robert Skidelsky, aims to make his work more accessible to both students of economics and the general reader. All of Keynes’s major economic work is included, yet the selection goes beyond pure economics. Here too are Keynes’s essential writings on philosophy, social theory and policy, and his futurist vision of a world without work. As Robert Skidelsky writes in his introduction: “People talk of the need for a new Keynes. But the old Keynes still has superlative wisdom to offer for a new age.”

Penguin Classics (January 5, 2016)

Britain Since 1900

A Success Story?

Robert Skidelsky

The Vintage History of Britain is the most definitive and compelling history of the British Isles to date, offered by six distinguished historians.

History, like the present, is always changing.

Scholarship on the history of the British Isles is currently experiencing a golden age. The breakdown of modernism and the eclipse of both the Marxist tradition and the 'Whig interpretation' that sees all history as progress, combined with the trajectories of nationalism in Ireland, Scotland and Wales, have generated unprecedented intellectual activity.

In the final volume of this history of Britian, Robert Skidelsky takes on the question: how successful was Britiain in the twentieth century. Taking in the loss of the British Empire, the 'ungovernable' 1970s, Britain's involvement in two world wars and unprecedented social change, this is a comprehensive and fascinating look at Britain's twentieth century.

Vintage Books (September 23, 2014)

How Much Is Enough

Money and the Good Life

Robert Skidelsky

What constitutes the good life? What is the true value of money? Why do we work such long hours merely to acquire greater wealth? These are some of the questions that many asked themselves when the financial system crashed in 2008. This book tackles such questions head-on.

The authors begin with the great economist John Maynard Keynes. In 1930 Keynes predicted that, within a century, per capita income would steadily rise, people’s basic needs would be met, and no one would have to work more than fifteen hours a week. Clearly, he was wrong: though income has increased as he envisioned, our wants have seemingly gone unsatisfied, and we continue to work long hours.

The Skidelskys explain why Keynes was mistaken. Then, arguing from the premise that economics is a moral science, they trace the concept of the good life from Aristotle to the present and show how our lives over the last half century have strayed from that ideal. Finally, they issue a call to think anew about what really matters in our lives and how to attain it. How Much Is Enough? is that rarity, a work of deep intelligence and ethical commitment accessible to all readers. It will be lauded, debated, cited, and criticized. It will not be ignored.

Other Press (NY) (May 2012)

Excerpt

How Much Is Enough?The New Yorker

Reviews

ReviewLondon Evening Standard
ReviewThe Guardian

The Economic Crisis 2008-2011

Robert Skidelsky

A selection of Robert Skidelsky’s writing and speeches on the Great Contractions, which started in 2008 and is set to continue. It has been the biggest global economic collapse since the Great Depression of 1929-1932.

Centre for Global Studies (March 2012)

Keynes

The Return of the Master

Robert Skidelsky

In the debris of the financial crash of 2008, the principles of John Maynard Keynes — that economic storms are a normal part of the market system, that governments need to step in and use fiscal ammunition to prevent these storms from becoming depressions, and that societies that value the pursuit of money should reprioritize — are more pertinent and applicable than ever. In Keynes: The Return of the Master, Robert Skidelsky brilliantly synthesizes Keynes career and life, and offers nervous capitalists a positive answer to the question we now face: When unbridled capitalism falters, is there an alternative?

PublicAffairs; Reprint edition (October 26, 2010)

John Maynard Keynes 1883-1946

Robert Skidelsky

Robert Skidelsky's three-volume biography of John Maynard Keynes has been acclaimed as the authoritative account of the great economist-statesman's life. Here, Skidelsky has revised and abridged his magnum opus into one definitive book, which examines in its entirety the intellectual and ideological journey that led an extraordinarily gifted young man to concern himself with the practical problems of an age overshadowed by war. John Maynard Keynes offers a sympathetic account of the life of a passionate visionary and an invaluable insight into the economic philosophy that still remains at the centre of political and economic thought.

Penguin (Aug 30, 2005)
Macmillan (Nov 2003)

John Maynard Keynes

Fighting for Britain, 1937-1946 v.3: Fighting for Britain, 1937-1946 Vol 3

Robert Skidelsky

This is the final volume of the biography of John Maynard Keynes. It is an essay which looks at Keynes' personal and public life and what influence he has had on today's society.

Macmillan (10 Nov 2000)

John Maynard Keynes

The Economist as Saviour, 1920-37 v.2: The Economist as Saviour, 1920-37 Vol 2

Robert Skidelsky

'A path-breaking contribution to the intellectual history of our time, and a kind of hymn to the role of creative imagination in social thought.' — D.Marquand
'Anyone who wants to understand modern Britain has to read Skidelsky's biography.' — T.Congdon

Papermac; New edition edition (12 Aug 1994)

Topics

Robert tailors each presentation to the needs of his audience and is not limited to the topics we have listed below. These are subjects that have proven valuable to customers in the past and are meant only to suggest his range and interests. Please ask us about any subject that interests you; we are sure that we can accommodate you.

The end of globalization

Is democracy the wave of the future?

The debate on macroeconomic policy: Keynes, Hayek, Freedman

The future of global reserves and exchange rates

Future of the Eurozone

Prospects for recovery

Investment priorities post-recession

Political risks

Prospects and problems of financial regulation

Issues in macroeconomic policy post-recession

Contours of the post-recession capitalist system

American economic policy after the election

Austerity versus prosperity

Videos

Europe in Crisis: Will the Brexit Lead to Breakup of EU? | Bloomberg

How Much is Enough?

Feedback

A forum for senior financial executives and investors:
Dear Lord Skidelsky — I would like to thank you for speaking at the [ . . . ] Forum last Tuesday. We have received lots of extremely positive comments from the participants and I hope you found the Forum to be equally worthwhile and interesting. I very much hope we will have the opportunity to work together at one of our future events.

Articles

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