Profile Major Works Resources

Milton Friedman, 1912-2006

Photo of M. Friedman

One of the most highly influential economists, political commentators and essayists of the century, Milton Friedman is one of the best known economists known to the general public in recent decades. An ardent opponent of the Keynesian economics, Friedman led the "Monetarist" incarnation of the Chicago School against the Keynesian orthodoxy in the 1960s and early 1970s. (click here for our Survey of Monetarism)

Born in Brooklyn to Romanian parents, Friedman studied at the University of Chicago as an undergraduate, wrote an empirical master's thesis under Henry Schultz and then proceeded to Columbia University for doctoral work.  Under the wing of Harold Hotelling, James Angell and Wesley Mitchell, Friedman was launched as an empirical economist, focusing on mathematical statistics and business cycles.  Friedman became a member of Mitchell's NBER in 1937 and served for a few years on Hotelling's Statistical Research Group during the war. Abraham Wald, who was also on the SRG, credits Friedman as an inspirer of his "sequential design" system of statistical inference.  His empirical work with Simon Kuznets (1945) set the stage for his later contributions to consumption theory.  Friedman obtained his Ph.D from Columbia in 1946 and got an appointment at the University of Chicago that same year.

Friedman's early contributions include his formulation of  risk-aversion and risk-proclivity (1948, with L.J. Savage), his use of evolutionary theory in the theory of the firm (1953), his controversial propositions for a "positivist" methodology in economics (1953) and, perhaps most fundamentally, the "Permanent Income Hypothesis" in consumption theory (1957).  

Friedman's important criticisms of Keynesian theory began with his attack on the IS-LM dichotomy in his "restatement" of the Quantity Theory in 1956 -- effectively, reminding Keynesians that "money matters". This was followed up by a massive historical study with Anna J. Schwartz on the Monetary History of the United States (1963) - leading to a famous debate on money-income causality.  In his famous presidential address to the American Economic Association, Friedman (1968) then focused his attention upon the apparent breakdown of the Phillips Curve relationship in the 1970s.  He proposed to replace it with a "Natural Rate of Unemployment" (NRU) - a concept later formalized in more detail by the New Classicals.

Friedman wrote much on various aspects of  economic policy.  In general, he argued that government discretionary "fine-tuning" of the economy, as had been proposed by Keynesians, ought to be replaced with iron "rules" of policy - notably his famous "money supply growth" rule (1959).   

Milton Friedman has also been a widely-read advocate of laissez-faire economic policies, particularly stressing the linkage between free markets and liberal democracy which has come to characterize the "Neo-Liberal" (or "Neo-Conservative" for Americans) movement that gained ground particularly in the 1980s.  He was a founding member of the Mont Pelerin Society organized by Friedrich Hayek in 1947.  Friedman's regular columns in Newsweek (1966-1984) and his best-selling popular volumes (e.g. 1962, 1972, 1980, 1984) have made him quite a celebrity.  His political involvements have made him a lightning rod for both critics and advocates of "neo-liberalism".   He was an adviser for Barry Goldwater in 1964, Richard Nixon in 1968 and Ronald Reagan in 1980.  The British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher credited Friedman with inspiring many of her reforms.   

However, Friedman's role as an economic advisor to the Chilean military dictator, Augusto Pinochet, in the mid-1970s, earned him much criticism, from foes and friends alike, arguing that he had betrayed his support of political freedom by cooperating with such an unsavory regime.  Friedman's response was that it was entirely consistent: free markets, he claimed, are a pre-condition and indeed, a catalyst for democracy and credits precisely the liberalization of markets he helped engineer for the subsequent democratization of Chile.  

Friedman won the Nobel Memorial prize in 1976.  He retired from the University of Chicago and has, since 1977, been a fellow of the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.  He continued to be actively involved in debates on economic theory and policy up until his death in 2006.



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Major Works of Milton Friedman

  • "An Empirical Study of the Relationship Between Railroad Stock Prices and Railroad Earnings for the Period 1921-1931", M.A. Thesis, 1933, University of Chicago.
  • "Professor Pigou's Method for Measuring Elasticities of Demand from Budgetary Data", 1935-6, QJE
  • "The Use of Ranks to Avoid the Assumption of Normality Implicit in the Analysis of Variance", 1937, JASA
  • "The Empirical Derivation of Indifference Functions", with W.A. Wallis, 1942, in Lange, McIntyre and Yntema, editors, Studies in Mathematical Economics and Econometrics.
  • "Discussion of Salant's "Inflationary Gap"", 1942, JPE
  • Income from Independent Professional Practice, with S. Kuznets, 1945.
  • "Lange on Price Flexibility and Employment: A methodological criticism", 1946, AER
  • "Lerner on the Economics of Control", 1947, JPE
  • "Utility Analysis of Choices Involving Risk" with L. Savage, 1948, JPE [pdf]
  • "A Monetary and Fiscal Framework for Economic Stability", 1948, AER
  • "The Marshallian Demand Curve", 1949, JPE
  • "Money and Banking", 1949, in A.F. Burns, Wesley Mitchell and the National Bureau.
  • "Wesley Clair Mitchell as an Economic Theorist", 1950, JPE
  • "Les effets d'une politique de plain emploi sur la stabilité économique: Analyse formelle", 1951, Econ Appl (Eng. transl,  "Effects of a Full-Employment Policy on Economic Stability: A formal analysis", in Friedman, 1953)
  • "Some Comments on the Significance of Labor Unions for Economic Policy", 1951, in D. McC. Wright, editor, The Impact of the Union. New York: Harcourt Brace.
  • "Comments on Monetary Policy", 1951, AER
  • "Commodity-Reserve Currency", 1951, JPE
  • "The "Welfare" Effects of an Income Tax and an Excise Tax", 1952, JPE
  • "The Expected-Utility Hypothesis and the Measurability of Utility", with L. Savage, 1952, JPE
  • Essays in Positive Economics, 1953, including new unpublished essays:
    • "The Methodology of Positive Economics" 
    • "The Case for Flexible Exchange Rates"
  • Income from Independent Professional Practice, with Simon Kuznets, 1954 [nber]
  • "Leon Walras and His Economic System", 1955, JPE
  • "The Quantity Theory of Money: A restatement", 1956, in Friedman, editor, Studies in Quantity Theory.
  • A Theory of the Consumption Function, 1957.  [nber], [excerpt pdf]
  • "The Supply of Money and Changes in Prices and Output", 1958, in Relationship of Prices to Economic Stability and Growth.
  • "The Demand for Money: Some theoretical and empirical results", 1959, JPE  [nber]
  • A Program for Monetary Stability, 1959-60.
  • "The Lag in Effect of Monetary Policy", 1961, JPE
  • Capitalism and Freedom, 1962.
  • Price Theory, 1962
  • The Interpolation of Time Series by Related Series, 1962 [nber]
  •  "Should There be an Independent Monetary Authority?", 1962, in L.B. Yeager, editor, In Search of a Monetary Constitution
  • "Money and Business Cycles" with A.J. Schwartz, 1963, REStat.
  • A Monetary History of the United States, 1867-1960, with Anna J. Schwartz, 1963.
  • "The Relative Stability of Monetary Velocity and the Investment Multiplier in the United States, 1898-1958", with D. Meiselman, 1963,  in Cary Brown et al.,  Stabilization Policies.
  • Inflation: Causes and consequences, 1963.
  • "Windfalls, the "Horizon", and Related Concepts in the Permant-Income Hypothesis", 1963, in C.Christ et al., Measurement in Economics.
  • "A Reply to Donald Hester", with D. Meiselman, 1964, REStat  [cwls]
  • The Great Contraction, 1929-33,  with A.J. Schwartz,  1965 [nber]
  • "Interest Rates and the Demand for Money", 1966, JLawE
  • "The Monetary Theory and Policy of Henry Simons", 1967, JLawE
  • "What Price Guideposts?", 1966, in G.P. Schultz, R.Z. Aliber, editors, Guidelines: Informal controls and the market place 
  • "The Role of Monetary Policy (Presidential Address)", 1968, AER  [pdf]
  • "Money: the Quantity Theory", 1968, IESS
  • "Factors Affecting the Level of Interest Rates", 1968, in D.P. Jacobs and R.T. Pratt, Savings and Residential Financing.
  • Dollars and Deficits: Inflation, Monetary Policy and the Balance of Payments, 1968.
  • "The Definition of Money" with Anna J. Schwartz, 1969, JMCB.
  • The Optimum Quantity of Money and Other Essays, 1969
  • Monetary vs. Fiscal Policy: A dialogue. , with W.W. Heller, 1969.
  • "Comment on Tobin", 1970, QJE [cwls]
  • Monetary Statistics of the United States: Sources, methods, with Anna J. Schwartz, 1970. [nber]
  • "A Theoretical Framework for Monetary Analysis", 1970, JPE
  • The Counter-Revolution in Monetary Theory. 1970.
  • "The Social responsibility of business is to increase its profits", 1970, NYTimes [csf]
  •  "A Monetary Theory of National Income", 1971, JPE
  • A Theoretical Framework for Monetary Analysis, 1971, NBER version of 1970/71 papers. [nber]
  • "Comments on the Critics", 1972, JPE 
  • An Economist's Protest: Columns in political economy, 1972.
  • "A Theoretical Framework for Monetary Analysis" and "Comments on the Critics", 1974 as revised and reprinted in R.J. Gordon, editor,  Milton Friedman's Monetary Framework: A debate with his critics.
  • Monetary Correction: A proposal for escalation clauses to reduce the cost of ending inflation, 1974
  • There's No Such Thing as a Free Lunch, 1975 (2nd. Ed. of 1972).
  • "Comments on Tobin and Buiter", 1976,  in J. Stein, editor, Monetarism.
  • "Inflation and Unemployment", 1977, JPE.  [nobel]
  • From Galbraith to Economic Freedom, 1977.
  • Free to Choose: A personal statement, with Rose Friedman, 1980
  • "Interrelations between the United States and the United Kingdom, 1873-1975.", with A.J. Schwartz,, 1982, J Int Money and Finance
  • "The Effect of the Term Structure of Interest Rates on the Demand for Money in the United States", with Anna J. Schwartz, 1982, JPE
  • Monetary Trends in the United States and the United Kingdom: Their relations to income, prices and interest rates, 1876-1975.  with Anna J. Schwartz, 1982 [nber]
  • Bright Promises, Dismal Performances: An economist's protest, 1983 (3rd Edition of 1972).
  • "Monetary Policy: Tactics versus strategy", 1984, in Moore, editor, To Promote Prosperity.
  • Tyranny of the Status Quo, with Rose Friedman, 1984
  • "Comment on McCloskey and Zecher", 1984. in Bordo and Schwartz, editor, Retrospective on the Classical Gold Standard.
  • "The Case for Overhauling the Federal Reserve", 1985, Challenge
  •  "Has Government Any Role in Money?" with Anna J. Schwartz, 1986, JME
  • "The Failure of the Bank of United States: A re-appraisal", with Anna J. Schwartz, 1986, Explorations in Economic History
  • "My Evolution as an Economist", 1986, in Breit and Spencer, editors, Lives of the Laureates
  •  "The Quantity Theory of Money", 1987, in J. Eatwell, M. Milgate, P. Newman, editors, The New Palgrave
  • The Essence of Friedman, 1987
  • "Alternative Approaches to Analyzing Economic Data" with Anna J. Schwartz, 1991, AER
  • Monetarist Economics, 1991
  • Money Mischief: Episodes in Monetary History, 1992.
  • "The Case for Free Trade" with Rose Friedman, 1997, Hoover Digest
  • "George J. Stigler, 1911-1991: Biographical Memoir", 1998, at NAS (pdf version)
  • Two Lucky People, with Rose Friedman.



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Resources on Milton Friedman

  • Pics: Friedman young, Chicago duo (Friedman and Stigler)
  • Milton Friedman Papers at the Hoover Institution.
  • Milton Friedman profile page at the  Hoover Institution.
  • 1976 Nobel Memorial Prize website: press release, facts, autobiography, lecture
  • Milton Friedman publications at NBER
  • Milton Friedman entry at Concise Encyclopedia of Economics, LibertyFund
  • Milton Friedman obituary at NY Times, 2006
  • "Some of Milton Friedman's Scientific Contributions to Macroeconomics", by Thomas J. Sargent,1987, Hoover Inst.[pdf]
  • "Milton Friedman: Perspectives, particularly on monetary policy" by Robert Barro, 2007, Cato Journal [pdf]
  • "The Age of Milton Friedman" by Andrei Schleifer, 2009, JEL, [pdf]
  • "Who was Milton Friedman?" article by Paul Krugman, 2007, NY Review of Books
  • "Labels and Substance: Friedman's Restatement of the Quantity Theory" by Daniel J. Hammond, 1999, HOPE [hope]
  • "Review of Hammond's Theory and Measurement" by A. Hirsch, 1999, HOPE  [hope]
  • "Friedman and the Walrasian Equations of the Natural-Rate Counter-Revolution" by Robert Leeson. [pdf]
  • "Early Patinkin-Friedman Correspondence" by Robert Leeson, 1998 JHET
  • "Patinkin, Johnson and 'The Shadow of Friedman'" by Robert Leeson, 2000, HOPE
  • "The Chicago Counter-Revolution and the Sociology of Economic Knowledge" by Robert Leeson, 2000 [pdf]
  • "Milton Friedman Unraveled" by Murray Rothbard, 2002, JLS [mis]
  • "Is Milton Friedman a Keynesian?" article by Roger W. Garrison, 1992, in Skousen, ed. Dissent on Keynes
  • "Friedman's "Plucking" Model" article by Roger W. Garrison, 1996, Econ Inquiry
  • "Milton Friedman, a Bayesian?" by G.P. Dwyer, 2014 [pdf]
  • The Milton and Rose Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice
  • Free to Choose of Milton Friedman's 1980 PBS Television at Idea Channel (video streams)
  • Free to Choose: Ten years later 1990 PBS show at Idea Channel (video streams)
  • Testing Milton Friedman at Ideal Channel (video streams)
  • Milton Friedman Speaks, 1977-78 lectures at Idea Channel (video streams)
  • Free to Choose series at blogspot
  • Cspan interview with Friedman 2000 (video), Friedman on Hayek (video)
  • Conversation with Friedman at Hillsdale college (video)
  • PBS Commanding Heights sections of Friedman (video)
  • Region's (FRB Minneapolis0 interview with Friedman. (pdf)
  • Reason's interview with Friedman
  • Interview with Friedman in Hoover Digest
  • Reviews of "Two Lucky People" (1999) 
  • Friedman biography at Cato Institute
  • Keynes, Chicago and Friedman by R. Leeson, 2003
  • "Review of Leeson", online by W.J. Samuels, 2005 at
  • "A Heavyweight champ at five foot two", article in Economist 2006
  • "The Origin of the 'World's Dumbest Idea'", article in Forbes, 2013
  • "Free Market Maven" article at Invstopedia
  • "Milton Friedman's  Surprising Secret", Boston Globe, 1992
  • Milton Friedman Century website
  • Friedman entry at Britannica
  • Friedman Page at Nobel Prize Internet Archive
  • Money as Value Page on Friedman.
  • (Not Very Nice) Personal Opinion of Milton Friedman by  Pierre Rinfret
  • Milton Friedman receives a coconut-creme pie in the face from the Biotic Baking Brigade  - image, press release
  • Friedman entry at Wikipedia
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