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A Monetary History of the United States, 1867-1960 (National Bureau of Economic Research) Hardcover – November 21, 1963

24 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0691041476 ISBN-10: 0691041474 Edition: 1st

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Editorial Reviews


"A monumental scholarly accomplishment. . . . [sets] a new standard for the writing of monetary history."--The Economic Journal

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 860 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press; 1st edition (November 21, 1963)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691041474
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691041476
  • Product Dimensions: 2 x 7 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,782,708 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Milton Friedman is a senior research fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and the Paul Snowden Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of Economics at the University of Chicago. In 1976 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in economics. He has written a number of books, including two with his wife, Rose D. Friedman---the bestselling Free to Choose and Two Lucky People: Memoirs, the latter published by the University of Chicago Press.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

188 of 194 people found the following review helpful By Jerry H. Tempelman on March 7, 2005
Format: Paperback
Milton Friedman and Anna J. Schwartz' A Monetary History of the United States, 1867-1960 is an analysis and explanation of the Great Depression of the 1930s. Its conclusion, first published in the early 1960s, differs from the two main explanations that existed at the time.

Austrian Business Cycle Theory had argued that the Great Depression was caused by excessively loose monetary policy that fed an unsustainable economic boom during the 1920s, which eventually collapsed into depression. Friedman and Schwartz argued that instead it was excessively tight monetary policy following the boom of the 1920s that turned a run-of-the-mill recession into a depression. (For the Austrian explanation of the Great Depression, see Sir Lionel Robbins' The Great Depression or Murray Rothbard's America's Great Depression.)

Keynesianism argued that the Great Depression had been caused by insufficient consumer product demand and lack of investor confidence, and that government should compensate for this by increasing its spending and financing it with government debt. Friedman and Schwartz argued instead that the problem and solution were not so much a matter of fiscal policy as they were a matter of monetary policy. Government, particularly the monetary authorities, was the cause of the depression, not the solution. Stimulative fiscal policy as prescribed by Keynes would in the long run not lead to an increase in economic growth and employment, but only to an increase in inflation. (For the Keynesian explanation of the Great Depression, see John M. Keynes's The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money or John Kenneth Galbraith's The Great Crash, 1929.
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169 of 179 people found the following review helpful By Dan Rogers on August 20, 2003
Format: Paperback
I read the reviews and found them helpful, but the unnamed reviewer that attributed the Great Depression to causes totally other than this book cites, and bashed Friedman as "not having a leg to stand on" concerned me because it seems the reviewer missed the very point of the book. Nobel prize winning economist Milton Friedman and his co-author undertook the monumental work of tracing money supply for each year for nearly a century. In doing so, they did the staggering amount of work required to show all of us something very powerful. To say they don't have a leg to stand on is disconcerting because it seems to indicate a review without a reading, or at least understanding. Obviously the Great Depression was the result of of complex interactions within the economy. What Friedman tries to do is show us the EMPIRICAL evidence for interaction between a contracting money supply and a worsening economic situation, and a steady money supply and a bettering economic situation. The Great Depression may have come about because of arrogant decisions and cascading failures, and those who decided to contract the money supply evidently were a very important trigger. I can say "evidently" because Friedman's research gives us the chance to observe the evidence for ourselves. To have advanced our knowledge of economics in a practical way, to have given useful facts for fending off depressions, is a gift. That's why this book will remain a watershed work in the history of economics.
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80 of 86 people found the following review helpful By D. W. MacKenzie on March 21, 2003
Format: Paperback
Monetary History of the US served a vital purpose when it first came out, and still has much use value. For a brief period, economists ignored the importance of variations in the nominal quantity of money to business cycles. This book provided important evidence that helped correct that error. Economists used to focus on spending rather than the money supply. This book, along with subsequent work, showed that money matters.
The most important part of this book is the section on the Great Contraction. Federal Reserve policy did contract the money supply by 1/3 during the early years of the depression. The Federal Reserve did revive the depression by increasing reserve requirements in 1937. The collapse of the banking system collapsed the real economy. The recovery of the banking system was important to the recovery of industry. Money matters.
The style of this book is excellent. Considering the sophistication of its subject matter, it is highly readable. It gets into both statistics and relevant written history. It also has a helpful appendix on the determinants of the money supply.
There are some problems with this book. Money is not all that matters. Government policies that prevented wage deflation contributed greatly to the Great Depression. Of course, this book was meant to focus on monetary history alone, as the title implies. But, readers must keep the limitations of such a narrow focus in mind when considering the explanatory power of this book. Its' authors also have too little appreciation for private banking systems (Friedman latter embraced free banking). Despite its' limitations, this book is important as a empirical source for understanding how money matters to economic conditions.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Rufus Burgess on January 22, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"A Monetary History of the United States, 1867-1960" by Milton Friedman and Anna Schwartz is an epic in economic literature. The authors concisely analyze nearly 100 years of monetary history and prove why monetary economics matter. Their work, originally published in 1963, offers immaculate insight into endogenous and exogenous economic variables that shaped US history.

When reviewing a classic text it is important to test it on two criteria: 1) it's ingenuity; and, 2) it's validity. In regards to ingenuity "Monetary History" paved the way towards a statistically grounded analysis of macroeconomics (in this case monetary theory). While "Monetary History" was groundbreaking it's truly memorable aspect is Ch7's "The Great Contraction". This chapter, which is now known as the money hypothesis, revolutionized the way economists thought about the Great

Deprhttp://www.amazon.com/review/R1C118WNLAM4I/ref=cm_cr_pr_cmt?ie=UTF8&ASIN=0691137943&nodeID=#wasThisHelpfulession. Ultimately, this analysis proved to be incorrect.

Why the work remains a classic, even though flawed, is because the sheer difficulty in producing such a feat. Friedman and Schwartz managed to put together a comprehensive 100 year monetary history in (a short) 700 pages. The amount of research required to take on such a project is hard to grasp. The footnotes in the "Monetary History" give a small glimpse into how much work was required to create this book. They alone are the size of a mid-sized economic text. Throughout the text the authors synthesis a wide range of evidence, often being forced to recalculate the statistics given to them, and somehow come out with a fairly consistent history.
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