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Who Is the Successor to Milton Friedman?

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When Milton Friedman passed away, he was clearly the most famous free-market economist on the planet. Who would you say has taken his place?


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TrackBack URL: http://econlog.econlib.org/mt/mt-tb.cgi/693
The author at Economic Investigations in a related article titled Bow Before Your New Libertarian Demiurge! writes:
    Bryan Caplan asks: When Milton Friedman passed away, he was clearly the most famous free-market economist on the planet. Who would you say has taken his place? … and my gut reaction was: Prescott in some circles. Barro in others. Lucas is singled... [Tracked on May 1, 2007 4:20 PM]
The author at Club for Growth in a related article titled Who Is Milton Friedman's Successor? writes:
    Bryan Caplan asks the question, to which several readers respond.... [Tracked on May 2, 2007 8:14 AM]
COMMENTS (26 to date)
Matt writes:

No one.

Pearl writes:

Nobody. The famous economists are Krugman, Stiglitz, Levitt and maybe Mankiw (I'm talking about popularity outside the field of economics). They are certainly some sort of free market socialists (some more, some less). Sowell is a good man, but his popularity can never reach that of Friedman.

Prescott in some circles. Barro in others. Lucas is singled out as a libertarian by his intellectual opponents, with ridiculous results.

This discussion is quite relevant! Take a look!
http://robertvienneau.blogspot.com/2006/12/why-no-more-great-libertarian.html

Tom S. writes:

In certain respects, Thomas Friedman. I realize he's an International Relations theorist, but that is the irony. However, he isn't as quite as classical liberal as Friedman.

Mic writes:

Ronald Coase. He is a famous economist, and a free-market economist, but he's not famous for being pro-free-market the way Friedman was. Does that count?

FBC3 writes:

Milton Friedman was a free-market economist?
Who knew?

Niall writes:

The Wall Street Journal editorial page. It is the leading source for consistent, perhaps blind, defense of free-market ideas. It preaches the gospel of Friedman better than anyone.

I think the time in which Friedman did most of his work made it such that free-market ideas needed a leader in the battle of ideas vis-à-vis socialism and communism, a battle of ideas that has (mostly) been won among economists. Few economists would disagree with the theoretical virtues of the free markets. Most dispute the extent to which market failures and government failures interact, which means that there is little need for a luminary on free-market thought, but instead more clairvoyant thought on the failures and remedies

To borrow Isaiah Berlin's terminology, Freidman was a hedgehog in the discipline of free market thought. Most economists are foxes, which lends itself to more specialization on an array of specific topics instead of the big ideas. This is a trend observed in economics over the past three decades.

Mike writes:

Famous ... that makes it a hard one. Without that caveat I would have picked the modern day Bastiat - your colleague Don B.

With that caveat, I would have to say John Stossel - though not an economist.

caveat bettor writes:

Coase's work and contributions, while outstanding, do not prove and touch in the magnitude of M.Friedman's. I am thinking about monetarist central banking, income tax withholding, and educational vouchers--can Coase come close to any one of these, never mind the whole body of M.Friedman's work?

T.Friedman? I think his reputation has warmed since taking a break from hard-hitting NY Times work (even a fool who remains silent appears to be wise).

Greg Mankiw might have a shot. So might Tyler Cowen. Possibly Paul Romer. But only because we live in the blogging era--can't compare Mark McGwire to Ted Williams, either, sorry.

I second Mike's nomination for John Stossel. He has probably had as much TV exposure, and that's the mob's coliseum today, isn't it?

Tex writes:

The results from Amazon's cross referencing feature suggest that Thomas Sowell is the answer.

claudio writes:

Nobody could replace him. Despite of the very good competition :)

Mr. Econotarian writes:

Tyler Cowen needs his own TV show, like "Free to Choose", except he also would talk about how markets and globalization affect Bar-b-q :)

Floccina writes:

Walter E Williams comes closest but is still far from Milton Friedman

blink writes:

It seems there is no heir-apparent. Perhaps we will see an increase in the quantity of Friedman-esque writing as a sort of competition plays out. In the meantime, though, many people will see Paul Krugman as the voice of economists on social policy. That’s scary.

eric writes:

Art Laffer? Don't laugh, he's actually quite good, but I think he's all private consulting. Barro. Prescott.

Renato Drumond writes:

"he was clearly the most famous free-market economist on the planet. Who would you say has taken his place?"

The question isn't "any fre-market economist will come close to Friedman's fame?". It's more simple: "who free-market economist will be the most famous?"

I think that will be Tyler Cowen.

Javier writes:

I prefer a different question: who should be the next great libertarian economist? My vote is for Tyler Cowen as well.

Snark writes:

Free-market enthusiasts might look favorably towards Becker or Feldstein to fill Friedman's shoes, but the heir-apparent, it seems to me, would have to be Sowell.

robby writes:

What about Richard Posner? I know he isn't an academic economist but he is fairly well respected and well known.

Kevin Nowell writes:

David Friedman.

Mic writes:

No way it's David. Maybe Tovar.

B.S. writes:

I would hope Friedman's influence only grows after his death. A mind like Friedman's is vary rare, and most only copy his arguments. The next Friedman will be someone who can communicate these ideas effectively to the common folk. Mankiw does well in his textbooks, but is sitting pretty in the ivory tower. Stossel does well but is seen as arrogant. We need a sort of teacher to explain economics and free markets in terms lay people can understand. Bloggers are in a unique position to fill this vacancy...

Working_Stiff writes:

Check out Steve Conover at his site The Skeptical Optimist.
http://www.optimist123.com/optimist/

Specifically his Money Series and his take on the deficit.

The Best Debt Clock in the world and an excellent data source as well.

Don writes:

I agree with "no one". If you took all the suggestions here like Cowen, Williams, Sowell, etc and put them together you might get to Friedman's level.

That said, carrying the mantle of Friedman is one thing, but repeating his feat of overturning prevailing orthodoxy and establishing what is today considered radical is another. I can think of only one economist who has the potential to do this, and that is Hernando de Soto. The major economic challenge today is bringing prosperity to the under-developed world and the prevailing orthodoxy today for global development is embodied by Jeff Sachs. de Soto is the antidote for Sachs in the same way that Freidman was the antodote for Galbraith.

David Hogberg writes:

Come on you guys, the answer is easy: Arnold Kling. Leave it to you econ types to overlook the obvious!

Barkley Rosser writes:

Free market economist? Heck, I know of some recent George Mason grad students (I shall not name names) who are reputed to have called Friedman a "communist" because he supported the existence of a central bank to control the money supply rather than free banking!

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