Why Was Keynes Not Awarded the Nobel Peace Prize despite being nominated after writing ‘The Economic Consequences of the Peace’?

Prof Lars Jonung in this paper has some interesting things to say on Maynard Keynes:

John Maynard Keynes became world famous with the publication of The Economic Consequences of the Peace in 1919, a harsh critique of the Versailles peace treaty. As a consequence, Keynes was nominated by German professors in economics for the Nobel Peace Prize three years in a row, 1922, 1923 and 1924. Because Keynes was put on the shortlist of candidates, he was evaluated in an advisory report in 1923, followed by one in 1924, prepared for the Nobel Committee of the Norwegian parliament.

This paper summarizes the two reports on Keynes. The appraisals were highly appreciative of Keynes’s book as well as of his subsequent newspaper and journal articles on the peace treaty, raising the question: why did Keynes not receive the Peace Prize?

The appraiser of Keynes even informed Keynes that he was “one of the foremost candidates proposed for the Nobel Peace Prize.” However, the Peace Prize was not awarded in 1923 and 1924 although Keynes was declared a worthy laureate.

There are no protocols that shed light on this issue. Still, the events surrounding the evaluation process, in particular the public clash between two advisors of the Prize Committee on Keynes’s account of the negotiations at Versailles, encourage a speculative answer.

Fascinating. Never knew Keynes was nominated for the Nobel peace prize. But was wondering, a mere book can get you the prize. But then some would argue that atleast better to give a prize to someone who has written on peace rather than give a peace prize to someone who has done the opposite!

Having said that, in a recent podcast with Tyler Cowen Niall Fergusson has a slightly different take on Keynes role in peace.

I got into an argument with the early Keynes in my very earliest book, the book Paper and Iron, because I encountered Keynes in a new role, which wasn’t well known, and that was his role as an adviser to the Weimar government during the reparations negotiations.

That informal role that Keynes played from the Versailles peace negotiations right through to the complete collapse of the currency is a fascinating chapter in his life. It doesn’t, I think, look so good as some of Keynes’s more famous contributions because I don’t think he gave the Germans great advice. When the whole thing ended in catastrophe in 1923, Keynes distanced himself from it and certainly didn’t acknowledge his curious part in that episode.

Phenomenal how some individuals like Keynes are part of so many histories…

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