Milton Friedman


1912 – 2006


Who was Milton Friedman?

Milton Friedman was an American economist, statistician, and writer who taught at the University of Chicago for more than three decades. He was a recipient of the 1976 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, and is known for his research on consumption analysis, monetary history and theory, and the complexity of stabilization policy. As a leader of the Chicago school of economics, he profoundly influenced the research agenda of the economics profession. A survey of economists ranked Friedman as the second most popular economist of the twentieth century after John Maynard Keynes, and The Economist described him as "the most influential economist of the second half of the 20th century...possibly of all of it."

Friedman's challenges to what he later called "naive Keynesian" theory began with his 1950s reinterpretation of the consumption function, and he became the main advocate opposing activist Keynesian government policies. In the late 1960s he described his own approach as using "Keynesian language and apparatus" yet rejecting its "initial" conclusions. During the 1960s he promoted an alternative macroeconomic policy known as "monetarism". He theorized there existed a "natural" rate of unemployment, and argued that governments could increase employment above this rate only at the risk of causing inflation to accelerate. He argued that the Phillips curve was not stable and predicted what would come to be known as stagflation. Though opposed to the existence of the Federal Reserve, Friedman argued that, given that it does exist, a steady, small expansion of the money supply was the only wise policy.

Famous Quotes:

  • Most economic fallacies derive - from the tendency to assume that there is a fixed pie, that one party can gain only at the expense of another.
  • So the question is, do corporate executives, provided they stay within the law, have responsibilities in their business activities other than to make as much money for their stockholders as possible? And my answer to that is, no they do not.
  • Many people want the government to protect the consumer. A much more urgent problem is to protect the consumer from the government.
  • We have a system that increasingly taxes work and subsidizes nonwork.
  • The government solution to a problem is usually as bad as the problem.
  • Only government can take perfectly good paper, cover it with perfectly good ink and make the combination worthless.
  • If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in 5 years there'd be a shortage of sand.
  • I'm in favor of legalizing drugs. According to my values system, if people want to kill themselves, they have every right to do so. Most of the harm that comes from drugs is because they are illegal.
  • I am favor of cutting taxes under any circumstances and for any excuse, for any reason, whenever it's possible.
  • History suggests that capitalism is a necessary condition for political freedom.

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Jul 31, 1912
  • Agnosticism
  • Atheism
  • Ashkenazi Jews
  • Jewish American
  • Jewish people
  • United States of America
  • Doctorate, Columbia University
  • M.A., University of Chicago
    ( - 1933)
  • Bachelor of Arts, Rutgers University
    ( - 1932)
  • Rahway High School
    ( - 1928)
  • Economic Policy Advisory Board of President Reagan
    (1981 - 1989)
  • Professor of Economic Theory, University of Chicago
    (1946 - 1977)
  • University of Minnesota
    (1945 - 1946)
  • Mathematical Statistician, Columbia University
    (1943 - 1945)
  • United States Department of the Treasury
    (1941 - 1943)
  • Assistant Professor, University of Wisconsin-Madison
    (1940 - 1941)
  • National Bureau of Economic Research
    (1937 - 1940)
  • National Resources Committee
    (1935 - 1937)
Lived in
  • Rahway
    (1912 - )
  • Brooklyn
    (1912 - 1912)
  • United States of America
  • New York City
Nov 16, 2006
San Francisco

on July 23, 2013


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