Friday, November 17, 2006

The King of the free market...

Milton Friedman, Free Markets Theorist, Dies at 94

Milton Friedman, the grandmaster of free-market economic theory in the postwar era and a prime force in the movement of nations toward less government and greater reliance on individual responsibility, died today in San Francisco, where he lived. He was 94. ...

Conservative and liberal colleagues alike viewed Mr. Friedman, a Nobel prize laureate, as one of the 20th century’s leading economic scholars, on a par with giants like John Maynard Keynes and Paul Samuelson.

Flying the flag of economic conservatism, Mr. Friedman led the postwar challenge to the hallowed theories of Lord Keynes, the British economist who maintained that governments had a duty to help capitalistic economies through periods of recession and to prevent boom times from exploding into high inflation.

In Professor Friedman’s view, government had the opposite obligation: to keep its hands off the economy, to let the free market do its work. He was a spiritual heir to Adam Smith, the 18th-century founder of the science of economics and proponent of laissez-faire: that government governs best which governs least.

The only economic lever that Mr. Friedman would allow government to use was the one that controlled the supply of money — a monetarist view that had gone out of favor when he embraced it in the 1950s. He went on to record a signal achievement, predicting the unprecedented combination of rising unemployment and rising inflation that came to be called stagflation. His work earned him the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Science in 1976.

Prof. Friedman was one of the great thinkers of the 20th century. Altough he is now gone, his legacy will surely last for generations to come - just as the names Adam Smith and John Maynard Keynes are still rembered.

That makes two giants of economic thought lost this year. I posted earlier this year about the loss of John Kenneth Galbraith - another great thinker.

Prior related post:
Sad News...

No comments: