This collection of essays presents a sampling of the significant contributions to twentieth-century economic thought and practice by Nobel Prize-winner Milton Friedman. Friedman is widely regarded as the leader of the Chicago school of economics, which stresses the importance of the quantity of money as an instrument of governmental policy and as a major determinant of business cycles and inflation. Making an early impact on the economics profession was his analysis of economics as an empirical science, and in particular, his conclusion that the only relevant test of the acceptability of economic hypotheses is the conformity of the predictions they generate with observation. His permanent income theory of consumption, his restatement of the quantity theory of money, and his hypothesis of natural rate of unemployment has by now become part of received economic doctrine. Outside the economic profession, Friedman is best known for his outspoken statements on public policy, particularly his consistent belief that a free-enterprise system with minimum governmental intervention in the economic process will best preserve and extend both human freedom and economic prosperity. A number of the essays reprinted here are eloquent expressions of his commitment to everyone's freedom to choose.
“This book is one in a series of compilations of works by eminent scholars (others in the series include Friedrich A. von Hayek, George J. Stigler, and Gary S. Becker). The book is a great overview of both Friedman's political publications and his economic ones. The selections range from Friedman's academic literature to his Newsweek columns to his magazine articles. As a sample of Friedman's academic papers, many of which are now classics in the economic literature, this volume is an absolute treasure. The quality of the chapter summaries in Anna J. Schwartz' introduction is first-rate as well.
If you are interested in reading Friedman's political writings, Free to Choose and Capitalism and Freedom provide more comprehensively structured expositions of Friedman's philosophy. The articles and columns in Essence, while certainly top-notch (then again, what by Friedman isn't?), are a looser collection in both topic and format.
Part of Friedman's brilliance is his ability to explain advanced economic concepts to general readers without ""dumbing down"" the substance. If you don't shy away from reading advanced academic papers, you'll enjoy this volume. Otherwise, the compilations of Friedman's Newsweek columns (There's No Such Thing as a Free Lunch and Bright Promises, Dismal Performance) may be more suitable.”
Milton Friedman (1912-2006) was an American economist, statistician, a professor at the University of Chicago, and the recipient of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences (1976). Among scholars, he is best known for his theoretical and empirical research, especially consumption analysis, monetary history and theory, and for his demonstration of the complexity of stabilization policy. He was an economic advisor to U.S. President Ronald Reagan. Over time, many governments practiced his restatement of a political philosophy that extolled the virtues of a free market economic system with little intervention by government. As a leader of the Chicago school of economics, based at the University of Chicago, he had great influence in determining the research agenda of the entire profession. Milton Friedman's works, which include many monographs, books, scholarly articles, papers, magazine columns, television programs, videos, and lectures, cover a broad range of topics of microeconomics, macroeconomics, economic history, and public policy issues.
The Economist described him as "the most influential economist of the second half of the 20th century…possibly of all of it".
Friedman was originally a Keynesian supporter of the New Deal and advocate of government intervention in the economy. However, his 1950s reinterpretation of the Keynesian consumption function challenged the basic Keynesian model. At the University of Chicago, Friedman became the main advocate for opposing Keynesianism. During the 1960s he promoted an alternative macroeconomic policy known as "monetarism". He theorized there existed a "natural rate of unemployment" and he argued the central government could not micromanage the economy because people would realize what the government was doing and change their behavior to neutralize such policies. He rejected the Phillips Curve and predicted that Keynesian policies then existing would cause "stagflation". Friedman's claim that monetary policy could have prevented the Great Depression was an attempt to refute the analysis of Keynes, who argued that monetary policy is ineffective during depression conditions, and that large-scale deficit spending by the government is needed to decrease mass unemployment. Though opposed to the existence of the Federal Reserve, Friedman argued that, given that it does exist, a steady, small expansion of the money supply was the only wise policy, and he warned against efforts by a treasury or central bank to do otherwise.
Influenced by his close friend George Stigler, Friedman opposed government regulation of many types. He once stated that his role in eliminating U.S. conscription was his proudest accomplishment, and his support for school choice led him to found The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice. Friedman's political philosophy, which he considered classically liberal and libertarian, emphasized the advantages of free market economics and the disadvantages of government intervention and regulation, strongly influencing the opinions of American conservatives and libertarians.
In his 1962 book Capitalism and Freedom, Friedman advocated policies such as a volunteer military, freely floating exchange rates, abolition of medical licenses, a negative income tax, and education vouchers. His books and essays were well read and were even circulated illegally in Communist countries.
Most economists during the 1960s rejected Friedman's methodology, but since then they have had an increasing international influence (especially in the USA and Britain). Some of his laissez-faire ideas concerning monetary policy, taxation, privatization and deregulation were used by governments, especially during the 1980s. His monetary theory has had a large influence on economists such as Ben Bernanke and the Federal Reserve's response to the financial crisis of 2007–2010.