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Milton Friedman (1912–2006)

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Abstract

Milton Friedman was one of the most imaginative and brilliant economists of the twentieth century, writing two foundational books, and hundreds of other, often important, contributions. He also became enormously controversial and whilst lauded by many, he became despised by some. Much of that controversy arises from later criticisms of Keynesian economics which changed in character in the mid-1970s. Friedman’s earlier work was much more constructive and more scientific than the later.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Friedman produced a number of very similar, brief accounts of his life, for example, Friedman (1976a). The much longer Friedman and Friedman (1998) is overblown and yet patchy in its coverage. Some of his recorded interviews, like Friedman (1991), are just as good, and much more charming.

  2. 2.

    Publication of the book and hence acceptance of the thesis were delayed by a controversy which has never been explained in detail. Friedman and Friedman (1998) implied that ill will of one of the NBER directors was the problem, but Collier (2017) described Wesley Mitchell’s discovery that Friedman’s original analysis had been incorrect. Interestingly, Rose Friedman (1976: 19) just blamed it on the war, which also contradicts Friedman and Friedman (1998).

  3. 3.

    It was either because Friedman antagonised the faculty with his arrogance, there was a dispute between different departments, anti-Semitism, or according to Friedman (1991), because he favoured American entry into the Second World War and others did not. Lampman (1993) assessed the matter.

  4. 4.

    There was a less noted second visit in 1981 described by Edwards and Montes (2020).

  5. 5.

    For example, by Farrell (1959: 688).

  6. 6.

    Through, for example, Vickrey (1947), a paper itself described as ‘brilliant’ by Modigliani and Brumberg (1954: 409, fn. 36).

  7. 7.

    Tobin (1958) contains some examples, though his appreciation of the book is also plain.

  8. 8.

    The following debate went on and on, with Tavlas (2021) being a contribution from which earlier ones can be traced.

  9. 9.

    The thinking is clearly visible in Friedman (1956b).

  10. 10.

    Though Brunner and Meltzer (1972) could be seen as an alternative framework to Friedman’s with something of the same motivation.

  11. 11.

    The expression was used in Friedman (1948: 254) and the point is implicit throughout Friedman and Schwartz (1963).

  12. 12.

    A similar sort of thing happens in Friedman (1962a: 44–51), where only the quietest references are made to Friedman and Schwartz (1963) while the story is presented as straightforward and established fact.

  13. 13.

    O’Sullivan (2021) offers an original and penetrating reading of the reception of Friedman and Schwartz (1963) suggesting this conclusion.

  14. 14.

    On which, see Forder and Monnery (2019).

  15. 15.

    Patinkin (1981: 31) dismissed it as being on the level of saying that the price of potatoes is a potato phenomenon.

  16. 16.

    Levrero (2018) considers the matter in detail, finding Friedman and Friedman (1998) to have made more out of it than was warranted.

  17. 17.

    The way in which the problem was treated as an immensely intricate one in the United States is evidenced by the research in Goodwin (1975).

  18. 18.

    That “broad idea” is the nebulous “Phillips curve” arising from the array of specific ideas described in Forder (2021).

  19. 19.

    I have done my best to sort out the facts in Forder (2014, 2018a, 2021).

  20. 20.

    On which, see Forder (2019b).

  21. 21.

    That case is made in Forder (2018b).

  22. 22.

    These points are argued in detail in Forder (2018c).

  23. 23.

    Chapter and verse on these things can be found in Forder and Sømme (2019).

  24. 24.

    A sample of such cases is presented in Forder (2015).

  25. 25.

    Forder (2019c) offers further comments on this matter.

  26. 26.

    For example, Skidelsky (2009) and Freedman et al. (2016).

  27. 27.

    Similarly, Backhouse and Bateman (2012) emphasised Friedman’s approval of Keynes’s attention to the data, step-by-step modelling, and seeing models as providing a framework for analysis.

  28. 28.

    This line of thinking is pursued by De Vroey (2016).

  29. 29.

    All of which are argued by Rivot (2012).

  30. 30.

    Vallois and Chassonnery-Zaïgouche (2021) consider the motivations of the piece.

  31. 31.

    The text of Friedman’s letter to Pinochet, and hence the truth about its existence, is in Friedman and Friedman (1998: 591–594).

  32. 32.

    This point is explored in Forder (2016).

  33. 33.

    This issue is explored by Cherrier (2011).

References

Main Works by Milton Friedman

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Forder, J. (2022). Milton Friedman (1912–2006). In: Cord, R.A. (eds) The Palgrave Companion to Chicago Economics. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-01775-9_20

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