Arnold Kling  

Milton Friedman

James Webb's Macaca... Hail the Victorious Dead...

Hearing of the death of Milton Friedman, I turned to this biography. What struck me was that Friedman won the Clark Medal, given to the economist under 40 with the most achievements, in 1951. At that time, he had published none of the works for which he is famous, either inside our outside the economics profession. Well, maybe one--the Friedman-Savage utility function (1948). He received the most prestigious award that the profession offers, and in hindsight he had not even gotten started.

It is much easier to think of examples that go the other way--of economists whose most famous work was behind them when they won the award. Looking at the roster of winners, I can think of several who would face uphill tenure battles at a top-five university if only their post-Clark-medal publications were on file. Of the 29 winners, I believe only Friedman, Samuelson, Arrow, Becker, and Stiglitz would have a claim to fame based on work done after they received the Clark Medal.

Middle-aged economists take heart! Friedman was 45 when he produced his book on the permanent income hypothesis, he was 51 when he and Anna Schwartz published A Monetary History of the United States, and he was 55 when he gave his AEA Presidential Address offering the natural rate hypothesis.

Of course, Friedman is best known for outside the economics profession for what he would have called his "normative economics." The late Bernie Saffran used to say, "Milton Friedman and Paul Samuelson teach the same price theory, but only Friedman applies it to policy."

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CATEGORIES: Economic Methods

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The author at Brain Waves in a related article titled Milton Friedman Nobel Economist Passes On at 94 writes:
    Milton Friedman, the Nobel Prize-winning economist who played a key role in the intellectual resurgence of capitalism and the global shift to free-market economics in the final third of the 20th century, died today at a San Francisco hospital. He... [Tracked on November 16, 2006 8:32 PM]
The author at Tim Worstall in a related article titled Milton Friedman writes:
    Wire reports are stating that Milton Friedman has died. WSJ: Nobel prize winner Milton Friedman, one of the most influential economists of the last century, died today. He was 94. Mr. Friedman's death was also announced at a conference of [Tracked on November 17, 2006 5:54 AM]
The author at Crescat Sententia in a related article titled Every man is mortal writes:
    There are eulogies to Milton Friedman throughout the blogosphere. Here's Steven Levitt, Tyler Cowen, Alex Tabarrok, Ilya Somin, David Bernstein, Arnold Kling and Jacob Levy. Perhaps most importantly, here is his son, David Friedman, with a short poem.... [Tracked on November 17, 2006 7:02 AM]
COMMENTS (4 to date)
Omer K writes:

Thats a great loss to the world. I liked his work and he was a man with a great character.

He will be missed.

Monte writes:

Milton Friedman and James Tobin reunited? Heaven can't wait...

Johan Richter writes:

So what did he get it for?

John Hutchinson writes:

Tobin is not on your list of post Clark winners. Tobin won in '55. He could have won the Nobel prize at least six times for his work after '55.

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