The Optimum Quantity of Money: And Other Essays

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9780202307657: The Optimum Quantity of Money: And Other Essays

This classic set of essays by Nobel Laureate and leading monetary theorist Milton Friedman presents a coherent view of the role of money, focusing on specific topics related to the empirical analysis of monetary phenomena and policy. The early chapters cover factors determining the real quantity of money held in a community and the welfare implications of policies that affect the quantity held. The following chapters formally restate why quantity analysis has become central to the science of economics. Friedman's presidential address to the American Economic Association, included here, provides a general summary of his views on the role of monetary policy, with an emphasis on its limitations and its possibilities. This theoretical framework is used in examining a number of empirical problems: the demand for money, the explanation of price changes in wartime periods, and the role of money in business cycles. These essays summarize some of the most important results of Friedman's extensive research over the course of his lifetime. The chapters on policy that follow survey the positions of earlier economists and deal with the importance of lags and the implications of destabilizing speculation in foreign markets. Taken as a whole, The Optimum Quantity of Money provides a comprehensive view of the body of monetary theory developed in leading centers of monetary analysis. This work is essential reading for economists and graduate students in the field. The volume will be no less important for practicing business and banking personnel as well. The new statement by Michael Bordo, a student of Friedman's and an expert in the field, provides a sense of where the field now stands in the economy and academy.

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About the Author:

Milton Friedman is a senior research fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University. Before that, he was Paul Snowden Russell Distinguished Service Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago. He has also taught at Columbia University, the University of Wisconsin, the University of Minnesota, and Cambridge University. Among his many books are Essays in Positive Economics, A Program for Monetary Stability, Capitalism and Freedom, A Monetary History of the United States, and The Optimum Quantity of Money.

Michael D. Bordo is professor of economics and director of the Center for Monetary and Financial History at Rutgers University. He is editor of a series of books, Studies in Macroeconomic History, and the author of Essays on the Gold Standard and Related Regimes, and (with Anna J. Schwartz) A Retrospective on the Classical Gold Standard 1821-1931.


“Milton Friedman, more than any other individual, has reshaped the thinking of contemporary economists and economic policy-makers on monetary theory and policy. The book under review is a collection of his essays on the subject, and should be read by every serious student of monetary economics... It has been a delight to read or reread the essays in this volume. Friedman’s important contributions to monetary economics could not be fully appreciated if the reader failed to take his warning seriously about accepting economic propositions without critical examination, be they propositions by Keynes or by Friedman.”

—Gregory C. Chow, The Journal of Finance

 “Economists are much better at defining what should be done to maintain an equilibrium than at devising means of recovering it when it is lost. It is the former question, not the latter, on which Friedman’s historical researches may well throw some light.”

—J. R. Hicks, The Economic Journal

“So pervasive is his influence that economists seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a discussion of Milton Friedman’s writings... The style is literary; and the ideas are presented with only a bare minimum of mathematics. The subtleties and nuances are almost always recognized either in the text or in footnotes. For those reasons, no economist working in the field of monetary theory can afford to be unfamiliar with the writings of Milton Friedman... [H]is work is fruitful: it always is.”

—Jerome L. Stein, Journal of Money, Credit and Banking

“[W]hat Friedman and his associates have done best is to marshall an impressive amount of evidence to show that “money is important.” Their sustained efforts in this regard over the past 20 years have without doubt greatly altered Keynesian views about the role of money in economic activity... [T]his is an ingenious and interesting analysis.”

—John G. Gurley, Journal of Economic Literature

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