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About Milton Friedman
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.
Photo by The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice (RobertHannah89) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons.
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One of Times Literary Supplement’s 100 Most Influential Books Since the War
One of National Review’s 100 Best Nonfiction Books of the Century
One of Intercollegiate Studies Institute’s 50 Best Books of the 20th Century
How can we benefit from the promise of government while avoiding the threat it poses to individual freedom? In this classic book, Milton Friedman provides the definitive statement of an immensely influential economic philosophy—one in which competitive capitalism serves as both a device for achieving economic freedom and a necessary condition for political freedom.
First published in 1962, Friedman’s Capitalism and Freedom is one of the most significant works of economic theory ever written. Enduring in its eminence and esteem, it has sold nearly a million copies in English, has been translated into eighteen languages, and continues to inform economic thinking and policymaking around the world. This new edition includes prefaces written by Friedman for both the 1982 and 2002 reissues of the book, as well as a new foreword by Binyamin Appelbaum, lead economics writer for the New York Times editorial board.
A powerful and persuasive discussion about economics, freedom, and the relationship between the two, from today's brightest economist.
In this classic discussion, Milton and Rose Friedman explain how our freedom has been eroded and our affluence undermined through the explosion of laws, regulations, agencies, and spending in Washington. This important analysis reveals what has gone wrong in America in the past and what is necessary for our economic health to flourish.
Writing in the June 1965 issue of theEconomic Journal, Harry G. Johnson begins with a sentence seemingly calibrated to the scale of the book he set himself to review: "The long-awaited monetary history of the United States by Friedman and Schwartz is in every sense of the term a monumental scholarly achievement--monumental in its sheer bulk, monumental in the definitiveness of its treatment of innumerable issues, large and small . . . monumental, above all, in the theoretical and statistical effort and ingenuity that have been brought to bear on the solution of complex and subtle economic issues."
Friedman and Schwartz marshaled massive historical data and sharp analytics to support the claim that monetary policy--steady control of the money supply--matters profoundly in the management of the nation's economy, especially in navigating serious economic fluctuations. In their influential chapter 7, The Great Contraction--which Princeton published in 1965 as a separate paperback--they address the central economic event of the century, the Depression. According to Hugh Rockoff, writing in January 1965: "If Great Depressions could be prevented through timely actions by the monetary authority (or by a monetary rule), as Friedman and Schwartz had contended, then the case for market economies was measurably stronger."
Milton Friedman won the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1976 for work related to A Monetary History as well as to his other Princeton University Press book, A Theory of the Consumption Function (1957).
In this “lively, enlightening introduction to monetary history” (Kirkus Reviews), one of the leading figures of the Chicago school of economics that rejected the theories of John Maynard Keynes offers a journey through history to illustrate the importance of understanding monetary economics, and how monetary theory can ignite or deepen inflation.
With anecdotes revealing the far-reaching consequences of seemingly minor events—for example, how two obscure Scottish chemists destroyed the presidential prospects of William Jennings Bryan, and how FDR’s domestic politics helped communism triumph in China—as well as plain-English explanations of what the monetary system in the United States means for your personal finances and for everyone from the small business owner on Main Street to the banker on Wall Street, Money Mischief is an enlightening read from the author of Capitalism and Freedom and Free to Choose, who was called “the most influential economist of the second half of the twentieth century” by the Economist.
Central to the new theory is its sharp distinction between two concepts of income, measured income, or that which is recorded for a particular period, and permanent income, a longer-period concept in terms of which consumers decide how much to spend and how much to save. Milton Friedman suggests that the total amount spent on consumption is on the average the same fraction of permanent income, regardless of the size of permanent income. The magnitude of the fraction depends on variables such as interest rate, degree of uncertainty relating to occupation, ratio of wealth to income, family size, and so on.
The hypothesis is shown to be consistent with budget studies and time series data, and some of its far-reaching implications are explored in the final chapter.
"…the most influential economist of the second half of the 20th century...possibly of all of it.”—The Economist
"Friedman argued that the best way to make sense of saving and spending was not, as Keynes had done, to resort to loose psychological theorizing, but rather to think of individuals as making rational plans about how to spend their wealth over their lifetimes...The details are a bit technical, but Friedman’s ‘permanent income hypothesis’ and the Ando-Modigliani ‘life cycle model’ resolved several apparent paradoxes about the relationship between income and spending, and remain the foundations of how economists think about spending and saving to this day."—Paul Krugman, New York Times
Friedman and Schwartz's A Monetary History of the United States, 1867-1960, published in 1963, stands as one of the most influential economics books of the twentieth century. A landmark achievement, the book marshaled massive historical data and sharp analytics to support the claim that monetary policy--steady control of the money supply--matters profoundly in the management of the nation's economy, especially in navigating serious economic fluctuations. The chapter entitled "The Great Contraction, 1929-33" addressed the central economic event of the century, the Great Depression. Published as a stand-alone paperback in 1965, The Great Contraction, 1929-1933 argued that the Federal Reserve could have stemmed the severity of the Depression, but failed to exercise its role of managing the monetary system and ameliorating banking panics. The book served as a clarion call to the monetarist school of thought by emphasizing the importance of the money supply in the functioning of the economy--a concept that has come to inform the actions of central banks worldwide.
This edition of the original text includes a new preface by Anna Jacobson Schwartz, as well as a new introduction by the economist Peter Bernstein. It also reprints comments from the current Federal Reserve chairman, Ben Bernanke, originally made on the occasion of Milton Friedman's 90th birthday, on the enduring influence of Friedman and Schwartz's work and vision.
Economics is sometimes divided into two parts: positive economics and normative economics. The former deals with how the economic problem is solved, while the latter deals with how the economic problem should be solved. The effects of price or rent control on the distribution of income are problems of positive economics. The desirability of these effects on income distribution is a problem of normative economics.
Within economics, the major division is between monetary theory and price theory. Monetary theory deals with the level of prices in general, with cyclical and other fluctuations in total output, total employment, and the like. Price theory deals with the allocation of resources among different uses, the price of one item relative to another.
Prices do three kinds of things. They transmit information, they provide an incentive to users of resources to be guided by this information, and they provide an incentive to owners of resources to follow this information. Milton Friedman's classic book provides the theoretical underpinning for and understanding of prices.
Economics is not concerned solely with economic problems. It is a social science, and is therefore concerned primarily with those economic problems whose solutions involve the cooperation and interaction of different individuals. It is concerned with problems involving a single individual only insofar as the individual's behavior has implications for or effects upon other individuals. Price Theory is concerned not with economic problems in the abstract, but with how a particular society solves its economic problems.
Milton Friedman on Economics: Selected Papers collects a variety of Friedman’s papers on topics in economics that were originally published in the Journal of Political Economy. Opening with Friedman’s 1977 Nobel Lecture, the volume spans nearly the whole of his career, incorporating papers from as early as 1948 and as late as 1990. An excellent introduction to Friedman’s economic thought, Milton Friedman will be essential for anyone tracing the course of twentieth-century economics and politics.
"His critical blast blows like a north wind against the more pretentious erections of modern economics. It is however a healthy and invigorating blast, without malice and with a sincere regard for scientific objectivity."—K.E. Boulding, Political Science Quarterly
"Certainly one of the most engrossing volumes that has appeared recently in economic theory."—William J. Baumol, Review of Economics and Statistics