Nobel Laureate Milton Friedman Dies

November 16, 2006

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imageProminent free-market economist Milton Friedman, recipient of the 1976 Nobel Prize for Economic Science, passed away Thursday at the age of 94. Friedman was widely regarded as the leader of the Chicago School of monetary economics, which stresses the importance of the quantity of money as an instrument of government policy and as a determinant of business cycles and inflation. In addition to his scientific work, Friedman also wrote extensively on public policy, always with primary emphasis on the preservation and extension of individual freedom. Friedman’s ideas hugely influenced both the Reagan administration and the Thatcher government in the early 1980s, revolutionized establishment economic thinking across the globe, and have been employed extensively by emerging economies for decades.

Edward H. Crane, president of the Cato Institute, commented on Dr. Friedman’s life and legacy: “Here’s a guy who won the Nobel Prize in economics for his work in monetary theory and he was a great Chicagoan, a great empiricist and theoretician of economics. But ultimately, what Milton believed in was human liberty and he took great joy in trying to promote that concept….Milton would say, Maybe I did well and maybe I led the battle but nobody ever said we were going to win this thing at any point in time. Eternal vigilance is required and there have to be people who step up to the plate, who believe in liberty, and who are willing to fight for it. …In my view he was the greatest champion of human liberty in my lifetime, certainly in the 20th century. And he didn’t slack off in the 21st century.”

Frederick W. Smith, president and CEO of FedEx Corporation, and member of the Board of Directors at Cato, put it simply: “Truly a great man. A loss to the world.”