Milton Friedman, 1912-2006

The impact that Friedman had is incalculable and easily surpasses any other 20th century economist. It’s always interesting to consider how history would be different if seemingly disconnected events transpired in different ways because people like Friedman were able to influence a different direction. For example, Friedman believed that the Fed miscalculated greatly at the beginning of the Great Depression by tightening the money supply and as a consequence causing high interest rates. If the Fed were more Friedman than Keynesian at the moment in history would the Great Depression have been a great recession instead and more regional in scope? And if that were the case would Hitler have not been able to rise to power on the backs of the economically disadvantaged in Germany and would that great scar on history and the 50 million lives it claimed never happened?

UPDATE: the New York Sun has a great collection of articles on Friedman.

Milton Friedman – Britain – Times Online:

The chance to challenge Keynesianism had been evident from the mid-1960s, when simultaneously rising inflation and unemployment were countering previously held assumptions that a trade-off existed between the two negative indicators. Friedman emphasised research also being undertaken by his fellow economist, Edmund Phelps, and claimed that the commonly held inflation/unemployment trade-off was in the long run false.

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