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RIP Milton Friedman

I have just read on Andrew Leigh’s blog of the death, at age 94, of Milton Friedman.

There are tributes here and here. I don’t have much to add – I feel a lot of emotion regarding this remarkable man. Certainly Friedman was one of the great economic liberal thinkers of the twentieth century, Friedman changed the way the world of economics thought about capitalism. He was also a fine economic theorist – his work with Leonard Savage on ‘The utility analysis of choices involving risk’, for example, was a masterpiece that has become part of the language of modern economics. His major work however was in monetary economics and monetary history and, with his work on the consumption function, these studies drove a new area of inquiry in macroeconomics. Friedman was a consistent liberal – although identified with the conservative side of politics in opposing minimum wages, discretionary fiscal policies and so on, Friedman also opposed conscription for the military and supported the legalisation of what are illicit drugs.


Friedman was one of genuinely great thinkers of twentieth century economics – his passing is a major event and a source of sadness for all of us who have followed and been influenced by his thinking over the decades.

3 comments to RIP Milton Friedman

  • jack

    Next time I’m in Chicago I’ll do little dance on his grave. History will not be kind to him. In the history of ideas his will be remembered like, ah, phrenology is remembered.

  • hc

    Jack, My colleague John Quiggin is on the left side of politics. He wrote a better appreciation of Milton Friedman than I did here. Please read it and rethink.

    MF was a great mind who had enormous impact around the world. He was a great defender of the freedom that we all value. You are an argumentative son-of-a-bitch but he would argue the socks off even you.

  • jack

    Well, it was a visceral reaction and perhaps from the hip. But that doesn’t mean that I am wrong. Miltie was a libertarian of sorts (like Paddy McG is a libertarian these days) and so am I, but somehow we are different kind of libertarians I suppose. I tend to agree with “melanie” on Quiggin’s blog or with one of Miltie’s students, Greg Palast.

    Also, Quiggin is a professor of economics so you guys probably have some sort of non-disparagement rule like doctors and barristers. Hey, rabbee, are you reading this me old china? I am not on the “left side of politics” by the way.