21 November 2006

Milton Friedman, 1912 - 2006

I was sorry to hear of Milton Friedman's passing last week. I hear all this talk of Bo Schembechler and Robert Altman, but I didn't hear anything on the regular news about Dr. Friedman, and it's really too bad. Not to minimize the contributions that Mr. Schembechler and Mr. Altman have made in other people's lives, or to speak ill of the dead, but it seems that Dr. Friedman's impact can be felt around the world and will still be felt decades from now.

Milton Friedman wrote a lot of books, some of them I own and have read. He was an incredibly brilliant man, and he was really good at explaining things. He won the Nobel Prize for Economics back in 1976. According to Wikipedia, he made "major contributions to the fields of macroexonomics, microeconomics, economic history, and statistics", and his Nobel Prize was awarded for "his achievements in the fields of consumption analysis, monetary history and theory and for his demonstration of the complexity of stabilization policy."

Friedman advocated laissez-faire capitalism, and is considered to have been one of the most influential economists of the 20th century. Wikipedia says that his ideas "had a major impact on the economic policy of both the Nixon and Reagan administrations" and in other governments in other countries. Some people say that his book Capitalism and Freedom, published in 1962, was part of the reason behind the fall of communism in parts of Eastern Europe.

He explained free-market economics in a series of specials aired on PBS back in the 1980's. Some of them are on You Tube. Check out his talk about pencils. Very cool.

He was 94 years old, and he lived a really incredible life. It's too bad that more people don't know who he is.

His obituary in the Financial Times.