Bruce Bartlett

Eventually, Friedman was successful in convincing most economists that Keynes was wrong. The Friedman view became known as monetarism and was instrumental in overturning the Keynesian orthodoxy in the 1970s. But Friedman's other scientific work also contributed to this development. This would include the "permanent income hypothesis," which says that temporary changes in incomes do not affect consumer spending, only permanent changes do. Friedman also was instrumental in debunking the idea that higher inflation would lower unemployment, as the Keynesians believed. Any such effect was temporary at best, Friedman argued. In the long run, inflation raises unemployment, he said, a view proven correct in the 1970s.

In the 1960s, Friedman became more active in politics and public policy. He was an adviser to Republican presidential candidates Barry Goldwater in 1964 and Nixon in 1968. In 1966, Friedman began a regular column for Newsweek that became must-reading for free-market economists until he gave it up in the early 1980s.

Friedman's most influential publication was the slender volume, Capitalism and Freedom, based on lectures given in 1956 but not published until 1962. In that book, he put forward one of the most powerful cases for the free market ever written. Its greatest virtues were the clarity and vigor of Friedman's exposition. It had enormous impact in making free market economics respectable once again, after being falsely blamed for the Great Depression. In his Monetary History of the United States, Friedman put principal blame for that disaster on the Federal Reserve, which allowed the money stock to shrink by one third, bringing on a massive deflation.

In 1976, Friedman was awarded the Nobel Prize in economics. The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences cited his achievements in the fields of consumption analysis, monetary history and theory, and stabilization policy. The following year, Friedman retired from active teaching and took up residence at Stanford's Hoover Institution. Although retired, he continued working until the very end. In 1980, Friedman probably achieved his greatest renown with the best-selling book and PBS television series, "Free To Choose," which explained to average people why free markets work best.

A key reason for Friedman's enormous output and influence is that he was blessed with a gifted partner, his wife Rose. A distinguished economist in her own right, she contributed heavily to her husband's thinking, most evident in their co-written memoir, Two Lucky People, published in 1998.

We mourn the death of Milton Friedman, who died in San Francisco on Nov. 16 at age 94. But we also celebrate his life and accomplishments, which will continue to provide guidance and inspiration. The master may be gone, but his work lives on.


Bruce Bartlett

Bruce Bartlett is a former senior fellow with the National Center for Policy Analysis of Dallas, Texas. Bartlett is a prolific author, having published over 900 articles in national publications, and prominent magazines and published four books, including Reaganomics: Supply-Side Economics in Action.

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