Friday, November 16, 2018

Milton Friedman

Milton Friedman was born on July 31, 1912 to Sara Ethel (Landau) and Jeno Saul Friedman, Carpathian Jewish immigrants living in Brooklyn, NY. As a child, his family relocated to Rahway, NJ and he was awarded a scholarship to Rutgers University, from where he graduated in 1932. Friedman planned to become an actuary, but was convinced that economics could help end the depression. He decided to pursue the study of economics at the University of Chicago, where he received an M.A. in 1933.

Friedman married Rose (nee Director) Friedman (1910-2009), a free market economist with whom he frequently collaborated academically. Rose was born Staryi Chortoryisk in present-day Ukraine to a prominent Jewish family, who immigrated to Portland, ME, in 1914.

The Friedmans moved to Washington, D.C. in 1935, hoping President F.D. Roosevelt’s “New Deal” would solve some of the economic challenges facing the nation. While Friedman supported the job-creation initiatives, he frowned upon the price and wage fixing proposals. During World War II, Friedman contributed to the wartime tax policy, aiding the creation of the system of tax withholdings, in order to infuse the government with money that would fuel the war effort. Later, he admitted that while the cash was needed at the time, he wished there were a way to abolish the system of withholding.

In 1943, Friedman began work at Columbia University at its Division of War Research, and completed his doctorate there in 1946. Armed with his new Ph.D., Friedman accepted a faculty position teaching economic theory at the University of Chicago, where he held court for the next 30 years. During the 1954-1955 academic year, Friedman traveled to Cambridge, England, serving as a Fulbright Visiting Fellow.

Friedman published “Capitalism and Freedom” in 1962, which drew attention to him outside of the academic world of economics. He concluded that a government should not intervene in its economy unless absolutely necessary and that free markets are the best way to grow an economy.

Friedman received the 1976 Nobel Prize in Economics for his work on consumption analysis, monetary history and theory, and the complexity of stabilization policy. In 1988, President Ronald Reagan awarded him the National Medal of Science and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Friedman and his wife retired to San Francisco in 1977, where he lived out the rest of his days. He died on November 16, 2006. He was survived by his wife and two children.

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