The Econ Journal Watch has with the Mercatus Center of George Mason University, sponsored a symposium entitled: “Why is there no Milton Friedman today”?
The result is a set of short essays written by 12 authors, among them Tyler Cowen, David Colander and Robert Solow.
I want to mention two:
David Colander gives what to me was the best answer to the ‘lead question’. In short, according to him, potential Milton Friedman´s are “filtered out of the profession”.
Robert Solow gives a shocking conclusion to his essay:
“Milton Friedman´s are bad for economics and bad for society”.
“Fruitless debates with talented (near)extremists waste a lot of everyone´s time that could have been spent more productively, either in research or in arguing about policy issues in a more pragmatic way”.
Maybe Solow was ‘high’ when he wrote those words, not the least because among well-known economists, none was more pragmatic than Milton. Today´s school vouchers, the no-draft army, the earned-income tax credit, for example, were his’ intellectual creations’. In 1953 he championed for free floating the international system of fixed exchange rates (20 years later it happened). In the 1960s, heyday of Samuelson and Solow´s Phillips Curve as guide to policy, Friedman had the gall to say it would break down as soon as people came to expect inflation. Inflation did come and while the “pragmatic” people debated about all sorts of different reasons for the persistency of inflation, Friedman very pragmatically said “It´s always and everywhere a monetary phenomenon”!