Skip to main content

Cookies and Privacy

We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. To find out more, read our updated Cookie policy, Privacy policy and Terms & Conditions

pa94c.jpg Paul Lachine

Friedman Completed Keynes

The most famous and influential American economist of the past century died in November. Milton Friedman was not the most famous and influential economist in the world -- that honor belongs to John Maynard Keynes. But Milton Friedman ran a close second.

From one perspective, Milton Friedman was the star pupil of, successor to, and completer of Keynes’s work. Keynes, in his General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money , set out the framework that nearly all macroeconomists use today. That framework is based on spending and demand, the determinants of the components of spending, the liquidity-preference theory of short-run interest rates, and the requirement that government make strategic but powerful interventions in the economy to keep it on an even keel and avoid extremes of depression and manic excess. As Friedman said, “We are all Keynesians now.”

But Keynes’s theory was incomplete: his was a theory of employment, interest, and money. It was not a theory of prices. To Keynes’s framework, Friedman added a theory of prices and inflation, based on the idea of the natural rate of unemployment and the limits of government policy in stabilizing the economy around its long-run growth trend – limits beyond which intervention would trigger uncontrollable and destructive inflation.

We hope you're enjoying Project Syndicate.

To continue reading, subscribe now.

Subscribe

Get unlimited access to PS premium content, including in-depth commentaries, book reviews, exclusive interviews, On Point, the Big Picture, the PS Archive, and our annual year-ahead magazine.

https://prosyn.org/AYEWHBc;
  1. asoros3_Emanuele CremaschiGetty Images_italycoronavirusnurse Emanuele Cremaschi/Getty Images

    The Spirit of Milan

    Alex Soros

    The COVID-19 crisis has given the European Union an opportunity to honor its high-flown talk of values and rights, and assert itself as a global leader. To seize it, the EU and its member states must demonstrate much greater solidarity, not least toward Italy, than they have so far.

    0

Edit Newsletter Preferences