Within economics, the major division is between monetary theory and price theory. Monetary theory deals with the level of prices in general, with cyclical and other fluctuations in total output, total employment, and the like. Price theory deals with the allocation of resources among different uses, the price of one item relative to another.
Prices do three kinds of things. They transmit information, they provide an incentive to users of resources to be guided by this information, and they provide an incentive to owners of resources to follow this information. Milton Friedman's classic book provides the theoretical underpinning for and understanding of prices.
Economics is not concerned solely with economic problems. It is a social science, and is therefore concerned primarily with those economic problems whose solutions involve the cooperation and interaction of different individuals. It is concerned with problems involving a single individual only insofar as the individual's behavior has implications for or effects upon other individuals. Price Theory is concerned not with economic problems in the abstract, but with how a particular society solves its economic problems.
Central to the new theory is its sharp distinction between two concepts of income, measured income, or that which is recorded for a particular period, and permanent income, a longer-period concept in terms of which consumers decide how much to spend and how much to save. Milton Friedman suggests that the total amount spent on consumption is on the average the same fraction of permanent income, regardless of the size of permanent income. The magnitude of the fraction depends on variables such as interest rate, degree of uncertainty relating to occupation, ratio of wealth to income, family size, and so on.
The hypothesis is shown to be consistent with budget studies and time series data, and some of its far-reaching implications are explored in the final chapter.
"...the most influential economist of the second half of the 20th century...possibly of all of it.”—The Economist
"Friedman argued that the best way to make sense of saving and spending was not, as Keynes had done, to resort to loose psychological theorizing, but rather to think of individuals as making rational plans about how to spend their wealth over their lifetimes...The details are a bit technical, but Friedman’s ‘permanent income hypothesis’ and the Ando-Modigliani ‘life cycle model’ resolved several apparent paradoxes about the relationship between income and spending, and remain the foundations of how economists think about spending and saving to this day."—Paul Krugman, New York Times
In this “lively, enlightening introduction to monetary history” (Kirkus Reviews), one of the leading figures of the Chicago school of economics that rejected the theories of John Maynard Keynes offers a journey through history to illustrate the importance of understanding monetary economics, and how monetary theory can ignite or deepen inflation.
With anecdotes revealing the far-reaching consequences of seemingly minor events—for example, how two obscure Scottish chemists destroyed the presidential prospects of William Jennings Bryan, and how FDR’s domestic politics helped communism triumph in China—as well as plain-English explanations of what the monetary system in the United States means for your personal finances and for everyone from the small business owner on Main Street to the banker on Wall Street, Money Mischief is an enlightening read from the author of Capitalism and Freedom and Free to Choose, who was called “the most influential economist of the second half of the twentieth century” by the Economist.
How can we benefit from the promise of government while avoiding the threat it poses to individual freedom? In this classic book, Milton Friedman provides the definitive statement of his immensely influential economic philosophy—one in which competitive capitalism serves as both a device for achieving economic freedom and a necessary condition for political freedom. The result is an accessible text that has sold well over half a million copies in English, has been translated into eighteen languages, and shows every sign of becoming more and more influential as time goes on.
Friedman and Schwartz marshaled massive historical data and sharp analytics to support the claim that monetary policy--steady control of the money supply--matters profoundly in the management of the nation's economy, especially in navigating serious economic fluctuations. In their influential chapter 7, The Great Contraction--which Princeton published in 1965 as a separate paperback--they address the central economic event of the century, the Depression. According to Hugh Rockoff, writing in January 1965: "If Great Depressions could be prevented through timely actions by the monetary authority (or by a monetary rule), as Friedman and Schwartz had contended, then the case for market economies was measurably stronger."
Milton Friedman won the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1976 for work related to A Monetary History as well as to his other Princeton University Press book, A Theory of the Consumption Function (1957).
Originally published in 1980.
The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback and hardcover editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.
This edition of the original text includes a new preface by Anna Jacobson Schwartz, as well as a new introduction by the economist Peter Bernstein. It also reprints comments from the current Federal Reserve chairman, Ben Bernanke, originally made on the occasion of Milton Friedman's 90th birthday, on the enduring influence of Friedman and Schwartz's work and vision.
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.
Milton Friedman is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University. Before that, he was 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, and A Monetary History of the United States. Michael D. Bordo is professor of economics at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, and author, with Lars Jonung, of, among other works, Demand for Money.