Revoluční múza svobody

Velcí společenští myslitelé jsou téměř vždy zpočátku polarizujícími osobnostmi, jedněmi obdivovaní a jinými zavrhovaní, dokud jejich radikální zpochybnění našeho porozumění světu konečně nepřeváží. Milton Friedman byl mezi moderními společenskými mysliteli velikánem přinejmenším ze dvou důvodů. Zaprvé hluboce ovlivnil nejen svou vlastní oblast ekonomiky, ale rovněž společenské vědy obecněji. Zadruhé, soudě podle dějinné zkušenosti, jeho vliv na veřejné mínění a hospodářské zákonodárství změnil k lepšímu životy bezpočtu lidí.

Celá desetiletí zůstával Friedman v intelektuální pustině, neboť zavrhoval poválečný keynesiánský konsenzus, že by vlády měly používat fiskální politiku k řízení agregátní poptávky – což byl názor, o nějž se opíraly centrálně plánované ekonomické politiky ještě v 70. letech. Vskutku, v kontextu své doby byl Friedman opravdovým intelektuálním revolucionářem, jenž spojoval pečlivý akademický výzkum s elegantně psanými populárně naučnými knihami a žurnalistikou s cílem bránit volnotržní politiky – a prokázat spojitost, obhajovanou autory od Adama Smithe po Friedricha von Hayeka, mezi ekonomickou volností a politickou svobodou.

V ekonomice Friedman oživil a rozvinul monetaristickou teorii, která říká, že hlavním určujícím činitelem výkonu hospodářství je množství peněz v oběhu. Ve svém mistrovském díle Měnová historie Spojených států, 1867-1960 (napsaném společně s Annou Schwartzovou) proslule připsal recese, včetně hospodářské krize 30. let 20. století, na vrub propadu peněžní nabídky. Obdobně prohlásil, že inflaci způsobuje nadměrná peněžní nabídka.

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