Milton Friedman died today at the age of 94.
Any good student of economics owes many a sleepless night hunched over term papers to this man, and yours truly is no exception. Even those who bitterly oppose neoliberal economics and economic liberalism choose not to make their straw men out of Mr. Friedman’s own arguments.
I admit to being taken with his staunch (near doctrinaire) libertarianism, and if not with his economic theories in themselves, with their transformative power on modern economic theory and many nations’ economic policies, including Reagan and Thatcher’s reforms in the US and the UK (many would also attribute the demise of many a Latin American economies by extension to Mr. Friedman’s influence on the Chicago School of economics.) Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said it all in a speech honoring the man in 2003: “His thinking has so permeated modern macroeconomics that the worst pitfall in reading him today is to fail to appreciate the originality and even revolutionary character of his ideas.”
I guess the reason I am not won over more fully by his economic theories is that I am still too much of a Keynesian, coming as I do from a confict-stricken country with too many market irregularities. (More on the folly of going directly from a war-time economy to Mr. Friedman’s model -now in full force in Afghanistan’s finance ministry- later.)
The IHT carries a long and impressive obituary on Milton Friedman here.