Milton Friedman : biography

July 31, 1912 - November 16, 2006

Friedman defended his activity in Chile on the grounds that, in his opinion, the adoption of free market policies not only improved the economic situation of Chile but also contributed to the amelioration of Pinochet's rule and to the eventual transition to a democratic government during 1990. That idea is included in Capitalism and Freedom, in which he declared that economic freedom is not only desirable in itself but is also a necessary condition for political freedom. He stressed that the lectures he gave in Chile were the same lectures he later gave in China and other socialist states.Friedman 1999, pp. 600–601 During the 2000 PBS documentary The Commanding Heights (based on the book), Friedman continued to argue that criticism over his role in Chile missed his main contention that freer markets resulted in freer people, and that Chile's unfree economy had caused the military government. Friedman suggested that the economic liberalization he advocated caused the end of military rule and a free Chile.


Friedman visited Iceland during the autumn of 1984, met with important Icelanders and gave a lecture at the University of Iceland on the "tyranny of the status quo." He participated in on August 31, 1984 with socialist intellectuals, including Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, who later became the president of Iceland. When they complained that a fee was charged for attending his lecture at the University and that hitherto, lectures by visiting scholars had been free-of-charge, Friedman replied that previous lectures had not been free-of-charge in a meaningful sense: Lectures always have related costs. What mattered was whether attendees or non-attendees covered those costs. Friedman thought that it was fairer that only those who attended paid. In this discussion Friedman also stated that he did not receive any money for delivering that lecture.


Although Friedman never visited Estonia, his book Free to Choose exercised a great influence on that nation's then 32-year-old prime minister, Mart Laar, who has claimed that it was the only book on economics he had read before taking office. Laar's reforms are often credited with responsibility for transforming Estonia from an impoverished Soviet Republic to the "Baltic Tiger." A prime element of Laar's program was introduction of the flat tax. Laar won the 2006 Milton Friedman Prize for Advancing Liberty, awarded by the Cato Institute.

United Kingdom

Milton Friedman influenced the thinking of Alan Walters and Patrick Minford, two of Margaret Thatcher's main macroeconomic advisers. See the book Margaret Thatcher's Revolution: How it Happened and What it Meant, edited by Subroto Roy & John Clarke, Continuum 2005.

Public service

Friedman was initially unable to find academic employment, so in 1935 he followed his friend W. Allen Wallis to Washington, where Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal was "a lifesaver" for many young economists. At this stage, Friedman said that he and his wife "regarded the job-creation programs such as the WPA, CCC, and PWA appropriate responses to the critical situation," but not "the price- and wage-fixing measures of the National Recovery Administration and the Agricultural Adjustment Administration." Foreshadowing his later ideas, he believed price controls interfered with an essential signaling mechanism to help resources be used where they were most valued. Indeed, Friedman later concluded that all government intervention associated with the New Deal was "the wrong cure for the wrong disease," arguing that the money supply should simply have been expanded, instead of contracted. In the publication Monetary History of the United States by Friedman and Anna Schwartz, they argue that the Great Depression was caused by monetary contraction, which was the consequence of poor policymaking by the Federal reserve and the continuous crises of the banking system.

During 1935, he began work for the National Resources Committee, which was then working on a large consumer budget survey. Ideas from this project later became a part of his Theory of the Consumption Function. Friedman began employment with the National Bureau of Economic Research during autumn 1937 to assist Simon Kuznets in his work on professional income. This work resulted in their jointly authored publication Incomes from Independent Professional Practice, which introduced the concepts of permanent and transitory income, a major component of the Permanent Income Hypothesis that Friedman worked out in greater detail in the 1950s. The book hypothesizes that professional licensing artificially restricts the supply of services and raises prices.

Living octopus

Living octopus

In countries which are located near sea coasts, sea food is an important part of national cuisine